SENIOR officers are rethinking how English Defence League marches will be policed after discovering they could be targets for bombing campaigns by Muslim extremists.
An Improvised Explosive Device similar to those used against British troops in Afghanistan was found in a car after police stopped two Asian men on June 30.
Two guns and ammunition were also seized.
Counter-terrorism detectives are trying to establish if there was an intent to attack supporters of the anti-Islamic protest group who raised tensions on an EDL march through Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the same day.
Police say the car was stopped because it had no insurance and the two occupants were not held at that point.
However, after the arms cache was found, seven men aged between 22 and 43 were arrested in the West Midlands and West Yorkshire last week.
Documents in the vehicle allegedly contained anti-EDL propaganda.
Police sources say EDL marches are attracting a large number of anti- Fascists and Muslim extremists.
They are also concerned about reports suggesting the EDL has forged links with Sikh extremists following the rape of a Sikh woman by a Muslim.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell, of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “As soon as the items were discovered in the impounded vehicle, our priority was to protect the public by pursuing and arresting those we believed to be involved.”
In a separate investigation, Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officers yesterday arrested a 22-year-old woman in Hackney, east London, on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
It follows six arrests on Thursday over the suspected terror plot.
British Muslim convert Richard Dart, 29, who changed his name to Salahuddin al-Britani, is believed to have been one of three people detained in Ealing, west London, and was arrested in the street.
He appeared in a BBC Three documentary, My Brother The Islamist, made by his stepbrother Robb Leech last year. It described how Dart, originally from Weymouth, Dorset, had been converted by controversial cleric Anjem Choudary.
In the documentary he spoke of his support for jihad and Sharia law.
Also detained in Ealing, at separate home addresses, were a 21-year-old man and a woman of 30.
Three men aged 18, 24 and 26, believed to be members of the same Bangladeshi family, were arrested in a raid on their home just over a mile from the Olympic site in Stratford, east London.
The six, who include a former Police Community Support Officer, remain in custody at a south-east London police station on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
Warrants of further detention were granted at Westminster magistrates court.
The alleged plot involved Islamist extremists with potential targets in Britain but was not linked to the Olympics, it is understood.
The threat to the UK from international terrorism is currently rated substantial – the third highest of five levels.
An Islamist radical whose teaching role at a leading university was exposed yesterday by The Times led a secretive "Brothers' Circle" at which he espoused his hardline views.
Reza Pankhurst, a senior figure in the hardline group Hizb ut-Tahrir, gathered a group of male members of the London School of Economics (LSE) Islamic Society for private talks.
Mr Pankhurst, whose party advocates the creation of an Islamic state governed by Sharia, is a research student employed as a teacher in the LSE's government department.
He is due to teach undergraduate classes this term in three topics covering nationalism and revolution in the Arab world.
Mr Pankhurst retained his position in the Islamic Society and the college despite a number of students raising concerns last year about the overt political content of his sermons at Friday prayers.
The Students' Union confirmed that it had reported those concerns to the Islamic Society and raised them "informally" with academics.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Germany for anti-Semitism and covered by the National Union of Students' policy of "no platform" for racist and fascist views...." - from a story in the Times of London, January 16, 2010, here
There's a well-known poem by Philip Larkin that takes to mocking task the "anti-war activists" who apparently thought that the Soviet threat could be fended off without military force. At the University of Essex, Chancellor Albert Sloman presiding, and at the London School of Economics, the student protests were particularly virulent:
When the Russian tanks roll westward, What defence for you and me? Colonel Sloman's Essex Rifles? The Light Horse of L.S.E.?
Larkin was rightly contemptuous of those who would put their faith not in the West's maintaining its military strength, but rather in "Colonel Sloman's Essex Rifles/And the Light Horse of L.S.E." They infuriated Larkin, the commonsensical realist when it came to politics (he was a friend of Robert Conquest). When he dismissed the "Light Horse of L.S.E.," he was referring only to the students. For those were the glory days for the L.S.E., when control was still held by the sensible -- to wit, Donald Watt and Kenneth Minogue and Elie Kedourie, before its takeover and makeover by a tiers-mondisant (himself third-world -- doing the subcontinental -- in origin) head determined to make the school safe for the unscholarly leftist likes of Fred Halliday, and so it was. Fred Halliday himself was plucked from some Trotskyite think-tank in Amsterdam (had it been the Herzen Foundation of Karel van het Reve, that would have been quite another matter). It is amusing that nowadays this Marxist still prefers Marxism to Islam, and at least has had the wit to worry about the latter.
Larkin did not live to see that when he wrote, in 1971, of the "Light Horse of L.S.E." At least those "Light Horse" would have been charging, however ineffectually (and Watt, Minogue, and Kedourie were worth their weight in well-armed brigades), against the enemy, and not against England itself. The transformation of the LSE has been not the only declension of an academic institution in recent years, but it has been one of the most spectacular in its speed.
LSE is where Donald Watt, Elie Kedourie, Kenneth Minogue, all once taught, wrote their books, and guided the students. They kept things sane. Even before they retired, or died, things had started to degenerate, standards to be lowered, the representatives of mass madness allowed in on the wings of attacks on "hegemonic postcolonial discourse." And now comes the final act in the general degringolade at LSE, with a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir being allowed to teach courses on the Arabs and Islam.
And it is not just the LSE. The SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) is a hotbed of anti-Israel (antisemitic) activity. At Oxford, it was bad enough that for years at the Middle East part of St. Antony's (a graduate college), the late Albert Hourani turned the place into a diploma mill (the diploma in question being the D.Phil.) for Arabs young and old, many of whom specialized in such fascinating topics as "The Construction of Palestinian Identity." The former propagandist for the PLO, Rashid Khalidi, got his D.Phil. under Hourani at St. Antony's, and today he is that appetizing thing, a full professor at Columbia, where he continues to act as the propagandist he was back in Beirut, or for that matter, in southside Chicago.
But, though he was a lowly lecturer for a while at St. Antony's (while billing himself as a professor), Tariq Ramadan could never have imagined - who could have? - that he, a sinister propagandist for Islam, holding out for the gullible Infidels hope of the development of a "European Islam" (that will somehow be based, one must assume, on a different Qur'an, different Hadith, different Sira, from that read by Muslims everywhere in present-day Dar al-Islam), really has had a professorship bought and paid for, with the promise (perhaps some already delivered) made to Oxford of Arab financial favors. This happened not long after Tariq Ramadan's appointment to a Professorship at the University of Leiden (paid for by an Arab government) had been announced. Apparently Ramadan realized that the University of Leiden would not be the place for him - Afshin Ellian, the brilliant apostate, teaches law there, and Professor Hans Jansen, though recently retired still carries weight in Dutch academic circles - and besides, Great Britain is the prize, the place that the Muslims want first to undermine from within, sensing its weakness. When his appointment was announced, the most disgusting part of the whole mercenary affair was the reaction of a professor at Oxford, who delightedly hailed the arrival of his new colleague, Frere Tariq, Tariq Ramadan.
At the time of the announcement of Ramadan's appointment, Melanie Phillips gave some useful information about the source of funding:
Tariq Ramadan, the darling of the British political and security establishment which foolishly and ignorantly believes his aim is to modernise Islam whereas his actual agenda is to Islamise modernity, has for some years been referred to as an Oxford professor. This was not actually true; he was not a professor at Oxford University but a mere research fellow of St Anthony's College, Oxford. But now the wish has become father to the deed. In the depths of the long vacation, the Oxford University Gazette announced that Ramadan had been appointed His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies with effect from 1 October 2009.
Gratified as I'm sure everyone will be to hear that Tariq Ramadan (who was barred from the USA in 2004 and again in 2006 for allegedly giving money to a charity supporting Hamas, a ruling revoked by a federal court in July) can now really call himself an Oxford professor, there are disturbing implications for academic integrity when an Oxford University chair can be purchased in this fashion by an interest group - the Islamic world - which does not share the western understanding of academic objectivity. The chair is funded by a benefaction from Qatar, of which the Sheikh is the Emir. (The Sheikh is also one of the Arab associates of the "Oxford College for Research and PhD Studies" -- which, since it poses with heraldry and Oxford blue logo, might be thought by the unwary to be a real Oxford University college when it is not.)
The Al-Thani of Qatar have distinguished themselves for a few things.
First, a member of the Al Thani ruling family alerted a known Al Qaeda operative that the F.B.I. was about to arrest him, and that warning allowed the wanted terrorist to escape.
Second, Qatar is the home of the Muslim cleric who has been ranting against the West, and providing a justification for suicide bombers, Yousef Al- Qaradawi.
Third, Qatar allows the propaganda outlet Al-Jazeera to keep its headquarters in Doha, and supports through generous subventions a television channel that the American government and military claim has broadcast falsehoods that resulted in attacks on, and the deaths of, American soldiers in Iraq.
Fourth, Qatar has repeatedly made overtures to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and has been attacked in the London Arab paper Al-Asharq Al-Awsat, financed by the Saudis, for doing so.
At Cambridge, there is the man formerly known as Tim Winter , a convert (or as he would have it, revert) to Islam, who shows up now and again under his Muslim name. He was, for example, one of the twenty-four Muslims who wrote an angry letter to Pope Benedict after the Pope did not show the deep respect they believe he should show, to Islam:
In response to the anger prompted by the Pope's Regensburg address, 138 Muslim scholars and religious leaders last year wrote him a letter warning that the future of the planet depended on Muslims and Christians making peace with each other.
The delegation of 24 Muslim leaders is led by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa Ceric, and includes an Iranian ayatollah and an American woman academic specialising in Islamic studies.
British members of the delegation include Dr Anas Al-Shaikh-Ali, chairman of the UK Association of Muslim Social Scientists, and Sheikh Dr Abdal Hakim Murad Winter, lecturer in Islamic studies at Cambridge University.
That last one - "Sheikh Dr. Abdal Hakim Murad Winter," a "lecturer in Islamic studies at Cambridge University," turns out to be none other than plain old Tim Winter, the name he carefully uses when he writes reviews in the TLS or articles in the British press. He wants to be a true-blue Englishman for the purposes of deceiving his audiences, but on the other hand, among Muslims, doing Muslim things, he of course wants to be known by the name that really means something to him, "Dr. Abdal [Abdul?] Hakim Murad Winter." One wonders who else he has managed to get hired, or promoted, at Cambridge, while the non-Muslim (and non-collaborating faculty members) chose not to make or take a stand, or were otherwise distracted.
And then there are the places where Saudi money has bought, has indeed paid for, whole centers for the study of Islam. Centers, for example, set up by the Saudis at the Universities of Exeter and Durham. At such places, those who prove unwilling to meet the ideological requirements of the Saudis are let go. For more on this, see the case, and the testimony, of Denis MacEoin.
Melanie Phillips, in the same article from which I took the information above about the naming of, and funding for, Tariq Ramadan's all-expenses-paid-by-Qatar chair at Oxford, also quotes Robin Simcox, a researcher for the Centre for Social Cohesion, on the influence of Arab money on its academic recipients:
...an academic chairing a public event on terrorist networks in Europe at St Antony's College, Oxford, stifled discussion on the sources of funding for these networks after a fellow academic raised the subject. The Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was also forced to take down a photograph taken by a Saudi artist at their gallery after it was deemed to be insulting to Muslims and Islam...
The way in which universities are being run has been altered to match the wishes of donors. For example, the management committee at Islamic Studies centres at the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh contain appointees picked by Prince Alwaleed, their principal donors. Furthermore, a variety of universities have altered their fields of study in line with the interests and wishes of donors.
Specialist teaching and research centres have been set up with a specific political agenda. For example, the Al-Maktoum Institute, an independent institution which has its degrees validated by the University of Aberdeen, was established in order to disseminate the "vision" of its primary donor and namesake. Furthermore, when British universities establish Confucius Institutes, an arm of the Chinese government, the curriculum and teaching standard is decided by the regime, with the university required to accept "operational guidance" from this regime....
The MEC [Oxford University's Middle East Centre at St Anthony's College] has received substantial sums of money from sources in the Middle East. The way in which this money has been used means there is a clear risk that donors will seek to influence the output and activities of the MEC. In addition, many large donations to the MEC have been anonymous, creating a lack of transparency. In many cases Oxford has knowingly accepted money from undemocratic states with poor human rights records...Several agreements made between the MEC and donors appear to indicate that funders have sought to influence the centre's output and activities.
But it's not just the capture of British academic centers, and departments, and individual chairs (well-upholstered with Arab money), that should alarm. It is also the fact that the terminally naïve or craven in the British government now pay for, and rely on, those in phony "moderate Muslim" think tanks, such as the Quilliam Foundation, who remain apologists for Islam even as they ostentatiously attack the most outrageous carriers of Islam, such as Anjem Choudary. Don't be fooled by such denunciations; the test is whether those who are labeled as "moderate Muslims," at such places as the Quilliam Foundation, are willing to tell the unhappy truth about the texts and tenets of Islam, the attitudes and atmospherics of Islam - not a "fanatical few," not the "handful of violent extremists," but of perfectly mainstream Muslims, who share the same goal as Al Qaeda or any other Muslim terrorist group, but differ only on the efficacy and wisdom, at this point, of the terrorist groups' timing and tactics. No, if the test is truth-telling, it's a test these government-paid "Muslim moderates" consistently fail.
The problem is far more, alas, then this or that identifiable and discrete agent of Islam preaching the Islamic gospel according to Hizb ut-Tahrir. It's the agents of Islam, bought and paid for, all over the academic archipelago that exists in Great Britain. Come to think of it, all over the academic archipelago that exists all over the Western world. Some departments of history or Islamic studies have managed to resist; some are even fighting back. But there has to be greater awareness, by university administrators, by alumni, by students (the hapless victims, in many cases, of these Muslim propagandists, both of the crude and, as in the case of Tariq Ramadan, the slithering hissing colubrine variety), and by faculty in other fields, who should not be hesitant to identify, and seek to undo, those who seek to undo us, intellectually as in all other ways.
For Muslims the war against any Infidels who resist the spread and dominance of Islam is a religious duty. It is also guerre à outrance, a war without end and without any scruples. For the goal justifies all means.
That is something that needs to be explained to their intended victims; in other words, taught to poor naïve innocent unwary Infidel us.
Jacques Ellul, technology doomsdayer before his time
By Doug Hill
July 08, 2012
Jacques Ellul in 1982. He spent his career at the University of Bordeaux as a professor of law and economics
Imagine for a moment that pretty much everything you think about technology is wrong. That the devices you believed are your friends are in fact your enemies. That they are involved in a vast conspiracy to colonize your mind and steal your soul. That their ultimate aim is to turn you into one of them: a machine.
It’s a staple of science fiction plots, and perhaps the fever dream of anyone who’s struggled too long with a crashing computer.
But that nightmare vision is also a serious intellectual proposition, the legacy of a French social theorist who argued that the takeover by machines is actually happening, and that it’s much further along than we think. His name was Jacques Ellul, and a small but devoted group of followers consider him a genius.
To celebrate the centenary of his birth, a group of Ellul scholars will be gathering today at a conference to be held at Wheaton College near Chicago. The conference title: “Prophet in the Technological Wilderness.”
Ellul, who died in 1994, was the author of a series of books on the philosophy of technology, beginning with “The Technological Society,” published in France in 1954 and in English a decade later. His central argument is that we’re mistaken in thinking of technology as simply a bunch of different machines. In truth, Ellul contended, technology should be seen as a unified entity, an overwhelming force that has already escaped our control. That force is turning the world around us into something cold and mechanical, and—whether we realize it or not—transforming human beings along with it.
Ellul’s followers will tell you that he provides one of the clearest existing analyses of what we’re up against. It’s not his fault it isn’t a pretty picture.
In an era of rampant technological enthusiasm, this is not a popular message, which is one reason Ellul isn’t well known. It doesn’t help that he refused to offer ready-made solutions for the problems he identified. His followers will tell you that neither of these things mean he wasn’t right; if nothing else, they say, Ellul provides one of the clearest existing analyses of what we’re up against. It’s not his fault it isn’t a pretty picture.
“He was a very stern thinker, and a very chilling thinker,” says Langdon Winner, a professor of the humanities and social sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “He wasn’t one of those people who say that everything will be OK if only the right side wins the next election.”
Ellul (pronounced a-lool) was a native of Bordeaux, France. His family suffered during the Depression, and Ellul worked with the French Resistance to protect Jews during World War II.
An admirer of Karl Marx’s sociological theories, Ellul came to believe that by the 20th century, the central issue facing industrialized societies had shifted from class struggle to technology—or, as he called it, “technique.” Ellul used this term to underscore his conviction that technology must be seen as a way of thinking as well as an ensemble of machines and machine systems. Technique includes the methods and strategies that drive the mechanical system, as well as the quantitative mentality that drives those methods.
The character of technique is ruthless, Ellul believed. It relentlessly and aggressively expands its range of influence. Its single overriding value is efficiency. Because human beings are hopelessly inefficient by technique’s exacting standards, they must be forced or seduced into conforming more precisely to its demands. This amounts to a fundamental degradation of the human spirit. “The combination of man and technique is a happy one only if man has no responsibility,” Ellul wrote. “Otherwise, he is ceaselessly tempted to make unpredictable choices and is susceptible to emotional motivations which invalidate the mathematical precision of the machinery.”
Ellul’s theories on technology were not embraced by the French intellectual establishment, in part because of he was consistently out of step with academic fashions. He spent his career at the University of Bordeaux as a professor of law and economics, with a special interest in the history of institutions. Orthodox Marxists didn’t buy idea that technology had superceded politics as the crucial issue of our time; according to Daniel Cérézuelle, who studied with Ellul and later worked as his teaching assistant, Ellul’s theories were actively ridiculed. It was in America during the 1960s that Ellul achieved his widest recognition, thanks in part to Robert McNamara’s technocratic prosecution of the Vietnam War.
Ellul was also unfashionable in intellectual circles because of his faith. A Protestant in the Reformed tradition, he was a prolific author of books on theology. For the most part, he kept his writings on religion separate from those on technology, though the forcefulness of Ellul’s critique of technology often retains, as Langdon Winner put it, the tenor of an Old Testament jeremiad. Here, for example, is a typical passage from “The Technological Society”:
“It is mere vanity to wish to distinguish a technique as good or bad according to its end. Whether technique acts to the advantage of a dictator or of a democracy, it makes use of the same weapons, acts on the individual and manipulates his subconscious in identical ways, and in the end leads to the formation of exactly the same type of human being...the well-kneaded citizen.”
Ellul’s defenders say the bluntness of his approach is one reason the profundity of his ideas has been overlooked. “He’s so easily pigeon-holed and dismissed,” says Albert Borgmann, a professor of philosophy at the University of Montana. “People see him as just a bringer of bad news, but the two most important things in his writing aren’t taken into account. One is the comprehensiveness of his explanation of the technological phenomenon. The second is his powerful moral concern. Those two aspects of Ellul’s thought are not as influential as I’d like them to be.”
The gathering of the Ellul faithful at Wheaton College this week will be small: Only about 60 people have signed up. That’s an indication both of Ellul’s disfavor in the academy and of the aging of his original core of supporters. The conference organizers have gone out of their way to include papers by younger scholars, however, and there are plans to discuss how to best carry Ellul’s message into the future.
The question can fairly be asked whether such an emphatic bringer of bad news believed there would be a future. Certainly he would never have endorsed the revolutionary solution proposed by Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who counted Ellul as one of his most important influences. David Kaczynski, Ted’s brother, has said that Ted considered “The Technological Society” his “bible.” Several commentators, including the technophilic writer Kevin Kelly, author of “What Technology Wants,” have expressed surprise that the analysis of technology in the Unabomber’s manifesto is as insightful as it is, evidently not realizing the debt it owes to Ellul.
Ellul never advocated violence of any sort and rejected specific, programmatic solutions he felt would be fruitless. He did, however, endorse two more general antidotes to the technological dilemma. The first was faith. As pessimistic as his vision of technology often seemed, he asserted that there was always room for hope, even if it depended on the possibility of a miracle.
His second suggestion was to recognize as clearly as possible the character and temptations of technique and resist them. Technology moves forward because we let it, he believed, and we let it because we worship it. “Technology becomes our fate only when we treat it as sacred,” says Darrell J. Fasching, a professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of South Florida. “And we tend to do that a lot.”
An irony that hasn’t escaped those who will be attending this week’s conference is that the future of Ellul’s legacy now depends largely on technology. According to David Gill, founding president of the International Jacques Ellul Society and a professor of ethics at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., the society’s website now attracts hundreds of hits every day, far more than the number of people who subscribe to its journal.
“Ellul never opposed all participation in technology,” Gill says. “He didn’t live in the woods, he lived in a nice house with electric lights. He didn’t drive, but his wife did, and he rode in a car. But he knew how to create limits—he was able to say ‘no’ to technology. So using the Internet isn’t a contradiction. The point is that we have to say that there are limits.”
During the latter part of the twentieth century, I became aware of the writings of the French scholar Jacques Ellul. Two of his works, “The Technological Society” (reflecting his sociological analysis) and “The Meaning of the City” (his Christian testimony,) illustrate his deep convictions in the two fields of sociology and theology.
However, I am more deeply indebted to the late Professor Ellul for his invaluable exposition of the global challenge of Islam, which he enunciated in two “Introductions” to books by Bat Ye’or. Most recently he wrote a Foreword to her book “The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude,” which was published in 1996. He gave a brief, but poignant analysis of a subject that, prior to the publishing of Ye’or’s books, had received very little attention in the West.
A decade earlier, Professor Ellul contributed a frank analysis of the shocking nature of Dhimmitude in a Preface to Bat Ye’or’s “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam”published in1985. It is this Preface that I will review below.
Prior to my “discovery” of Bat Ye’or’s works, I had read three books in English on the plight of Dhimmis (Christians and Jews) under Islam. One was Edward Wakin’s, “A Lonely Minority: The Modern Story of Egypt's Copts.” New York: William Morrow & Company, 1963.
Fifteen years later, I read with appreciation Robert B. Betts’ book, “Christians in the Arab East: A Political Study,” Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1978, in which he described the desperate condition of the Arabic-speaking Christians in the Middle East.
Then, the Anglican Bishop and Arabist, Kenneth Cragg, dealt at length with the subject in “The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East.” Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.
Professor Ellul began his discussion of Dhimmitude by pointing to the sensitive nature of the subject. Islam’s leaders have never regarded their treatment of non-Muslims as a problem. In fact they claim that the populations which were overcome by the Futuhat (conquests) were treated in a kindly manner and granted “protection,” i.e. “Dhimma.”
Furthermore, until recent times, this whole topic was rather academic, since it dealt with the past when Islam ruled great areas of the world under the successive caliphates of the Umayyads, the Abbasids, and the Ottoman Turks. But soon after WWII, things began to change. As Professor Ellul put it,
“That which was related to Islam and the Muslim world was believed to belong to a past that, if not dead, was certainly no more alive than medieval Christianity… And then, suddenly, since 1950, everything changed completely.”
It is true that Kemal Ataturk abolished the Caliphate in 1924, and established the secular Republic of Turkey, but his action was not well-received throughout the rest of the Muslim world. In India, for example, the movement of Khilafat, i.e. the re-establishment of the Caliphate arose; a phenomenon that showed the unwillingness of Indian Islam to live without the symbol of the unity of the Umma. So, when the British Raj was about to grant independence to India, its Muslim leaders demanded that the country be partitioned between Muslims and Hindus. Jacques Ellul pointed to the tragic events that accompanied the birth of Pakistan, an event of tremendous importance in the modern renaissance of political Islam:
“One ought not to forget that the terrible war of 1947 in India between the Muslims and Hindus was fought on a purely religious basis. More than one million people died, and since massacres had not taken place when the Muslims had lived within the Hindu-Buddhist orbit, one may presume that the war was caused by the attempt to set up an independent Islamic republic.”
This latent Islamic imperialistic impulse expressed itself as Muslims began to flex their economic muscles thanks to their control and exploitation of the major sources of petroleum.
“It has transformed the face of the world in less than half a century. And we are now witnessing a vast program to propagate Islam, involving the building of mosques everywhere.”
At present, to speak about the evils of Dhimmitude is no longer acceptable. The moment one broaches this subject strong feelings are easily aroused among Muslims. Nevertheless, we cannot remain silent about an institution that has impacted the lives of millions of non-Muslims during the last 1400 years. Having set forth the context for the discussion of Dhimmitude, Jacques Ellul proceeded to explain the value of Bat Ye’or’s book:
“It is within this context that Bat Ye’or’s book, The Dhimmi should be placed: and it is an exemplary contribution to this crucial discussion that concerns us all. Here I shall neither give an account of the book nor praise its merits, but shall simply indicate its importance. The dhimmi is someone who lives in a Muslim society without being a Muslim (Jews, Christians, and occasionally "animists"). He has a particular social, political, and economic status, and it is essential for us to know how this "refractory" person has been treated.”
The trouble with Dhimmitude is that it is rooted in a Qur’anic tradition, and was codified in the legal arrangements that covered every aspect of the lives of non-Muslims living within Daru’l Islam. It cannot be altered or changed without doing violence to the very essence of Islam. Non-Muslims do not and cannot have the same rights as Muslims. By their very persistence in remaining as non-believers living under the rule of their Muslim conquerors, they give evidence to their stubbornness and faithlessness. Thus a non-Muslim is regarded as a Kafir (non-believer) or a Mushrik (a term used today mainly for Christians who, in the Muslims’ view, believe in three gods.)
When writing on the subject of Dhimmis and Dhimmitude, one has to do more than discuss the etymological meaning of the Arabic word; for it is inaccurate to claim that it designates the status of “protection” for Christians and Jews living under Islam. It is not an inherent right for a Christian, a Jew, or a Zoroastrian; in Islam, it remains a given or a granted right that can be revoked any time! This is a very important point that Ellul makes:
“However, the dhimmi itself is a controversial subject. This word actually means “protégé” or “protected person.” This is one of the arguments of the modern defenders of Islam: the dhimmi has never been persecuted or maltreated (except accidentally); on the contrary, he was a protected person. What better example could illustrate Islam’s liberalism. Here are people who do not accept Islam and, instead of being expelled, they are protected…When this “stranger” lives in Islamic countries, the answer can only be: [protected] against the Muslims themselves.”
After dealing with the criticisms of some Western scholars of Bat Ye’or’s “The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam,” Professor Ellul ended his Preface with these words:
“If I have dealt with the criticisms at some length, it is because I feel that is important in order to establish the “scholarly” nature of this book. For my part, I consider this study to be very honest, hardly polemical at all, and as objective as possible (always bearing in mind the fact that I belong to the school of historians for whom pure objectivity, in the absolute sense, cannot exist). The Dhimmi contains a rich selection of source material, makes a correct use of documents, and displays a concern to place each situation in its proper historical context… The Muslim world has not evolved in its manner of considering the non-Muslim, which is a reminder of the fate in store for those who may one day be submerged within it. It is a source of enlightenment for our time.”
Jacques Ellul’s concluding words sounded an alarm not only for his fellow-French citizens, but for all the European states where large numbers of Muslims have settled, and altered the social and political landscape. He died in 1994, a decade before the publication of Ye’or’s latest book, “Eurabia,” another great work on the subject of Islam and the West. Nevertheless, we remain greatly indebted to the introductory “essays” he contributed to the two books of our expert on “Dhimmitude,” the indefatigable Bat Ye’or. I look forward to more writing from her. Her output thus far has been most enlightening and has helped immensely in informing her readers about one of the most important subjects of our twenty-first century.
Jacques ELLUL died in 1994 at 82. A jurist, historian, theologian and sociologist, he published more than 600 articles and 48 books, many of which were translated into a dozen languages (more than 20 into English). From 1950-70 he was a member of the National Council of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Professor at the University of Bordeaux, his oeuvre includes studies on medieval European institutions, the effect of modern technology on contemporary society, and moral theology. In American academic circles, he was widely known for "The Technological Society" written in the 1950's (English edition, 1964) and recognized as one of the most prominent of contemporary thinkers.
Books on Dhimmis and Dhimmitude by Bat Ye’or:
The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, by Bat Ye’or, Preface by Jacques Ellul. Published in 1985 by Associated University Presses, 440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512
The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, by Bat Ye’or, Foreword by Jacques Ellul. Published in 1996 by Associated University Presses, 440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512
Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, by Bat Ye’or. Published in 2002 by Associated University Presses, 440 Forsgate Drive, Cranbury, NJ 08512
Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, January 30, 2005), is about the transformation of Europe into “Eurabia,” a cultural and political appendage of the Arab/Muslim world. Eurabia is fundamentally anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-American, and antisemitic.
Abdus Salam, Nobel Winner And Hated Qadiani (Ahmadi)
From The Houston Chronicle:
Pakistan shuns physicist linked to 'God particle'
SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press
July 8, 2012
In this picture taken on May 29, 2010, people from a minority Muslim Ahmadi Community stand guard as others preparing to bury the victims of attack by Islamic militants, in Rabwa, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest from Lahore Pakistan. The first Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Professor Abdus Salam, the country’s greatest scientist, who passed away in 1996, has been disowned by many of Pakistan’s 190 million citizens because he was a member of a minority Muslim sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view Ahmadis as heretics. Photo: Anjum Naveed / AP
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's only Nobel laureate helped develop the theoretical framework that led to the apparent discovery of the subatomic "God particle" last week, yet his legacy has been largely scorned in his homeland because of his religious affiliation.
It's a sign of the growing Islamic extremism in his country.
Adbus Salam, who died in 1996, was once hailed as a national hero for his pioneering work in physics and work that guided the early stages of Pakistan's nuclear program. Now his name is even stricken from school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants, who view them as heretics.
Their plight — along with that of Pakistan's other religious minorities, such as Shiite Muslims, Christians and Hindus — has deepened in recent years as hard-line interpretations of Islam have gained ground and militants have stepped up attacks against groups they oppose. The majority of Pakistan's citizens are Sunni Muslims.
Salam, a child prodigy born in 1926 in what was to become Pakistan after the partition of British-controlled India, won more than a dozen international prizes and honors. In 1979, he was co-winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, which theorizes how fundamental forces govern the overall dynamics of the universe.
Salam and Steven Weinberg, with whom he shared the Nobel Prize, independently predicted the existence of a subatomic particle now called the Higgs boson, named after a British physicist who theorized that it endowed other particles with mass, said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist who once worked with Salam. It is also known as the "God particle" because its existence is vitally important toward understanding the early evolution of the universe.
Physicists in Switzerland stoked worldwide excitement Wednesday when they announced they have all but proven the particle's existence. This was done using the world's largest atom smasher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, near Geneva.
"This would be a great vindication of Salam's work and the Standard Model as a whole," said Khurshid Hasanain, chairman of the physics department at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, Salam wielded significant influence in Pakistan as the chief scientific adviser to the president, helping to set up the country's space agency and institute for nuclear science and technology. Salam also assisted in the early stages of Pakistan's effort to build a nuclear bomb, which it eventually tested in 1998.
Salam's life, along with the fate of the 3 million other Ahmadis in Pakistan, drastically changed in 1974 when parliament amended the constitution to declare that members of the sect were not considered Muslims under Pakistani law.
Ahmadis believe their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet of God — a position rejected by the government in response to a mass movement led by Pakistan's major Islamic parties. Islam considers Muhammad the last prophet and those who subsequently declared themselves prophets as heretics.
All Pakistani passport applicants must sign a section saying the Ahmadi faith's founder was an "impostor" and his followers are "non-Muslims." Ahmadis are prevented by law in Pakistan to "pose" as Muslims, declare their faith publicly, call their places of worship mosques or perform the Muslim call to prayer. They can be punished with prison and even death.
Salam resigned from his government post in protest following the 1974 constitutional amendment and eventually moved to Europe to pursue his work. In Italy, he created a center for theoretical physics to help physicists from the developing world.
Although Pakistan's then-president, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, presented Salam with Pakistan's highest civilian honor after he won the Nobel Prize, the general response in the country was muted. The physicist was celebrated more enthusiastically by other nations, including Pakistan's archenemy, India.
Despite his achievements, Salam's name appears in few textbooks and is rarely mentioned by Pakistani leaders or the media. By contrast, fellow Pakistani physicist A.Q. Khan, who played a key role in developing the country's nuclear bomb and later confessed to spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is considered a national hero. Khan is a Muslim.
Officials at Quaid-i-Azam University had to cancel plans for Salam to lecture about his Nobel-winning theory when Islamist student activists threatened to break the physicist's legs, said his colleague Hoodbhoy.
"The way he has been treated is such a tragedy," said Hoodbhoy. "He went from someone who was revered in Pakistan, a national celebrity, to someone who could not set foot in Pakistan. If he came, he would be insulted and could be hurt or even killed."
The president who honored Salam would later go on to intensify persecution of Ahmadis.
Salam was targeted even after his death. His body was returned to Pakistan in 1996 after he died in Oxford, England, and was buried under a gravestone that read "First Muslim Nobel Laureate," but a local magistrate ordered the word "Muslim" to be erased, said Hoodbhoy.
Since Salam's death, life has become even more precarious for Ahmadis in Pakistan. Taliban militants attacked two mosques packed with Ahmadis in Lahore in 2010, killing at least 80 people.
"Many Ahmadis have received letters from fundamentalists since the 2010 attacks threatening to target them again, and the government isn't doing anything," said Qamar Suleiman, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community.
Pakistan's only claim to intellectual fame, in any field anywhere, is Abdus Salam, who shared a physics Nobel with two Americans decades ago. Officially, Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi. That means he belonged to a sect that recognized someone as a prophet who came after Muhammad. That's not right. That's against Islam. That' means that Ahmadis, pejoratively called "Qadianis" in Pakistan, must not be allowed on official documents to identify themselves as Muslims, and that means they will be treated, like all non-Muslims in Pakistan, with official and unofficial contumely, hostility, and even murderous hatred.
In truth, Abdus Salam was not an Ahmadi. He was a full-fledged atheist. He didn't believe in God. Really, doing what he did, knowing what he knew, how could he have been anything else?
So the one "Muslim" Physics Nobel was won by someone who was not a Muslim at all.
For as an Ahmadi (formally) he
1) was not allowed by real Muslims to describe himself as a Muslim and in his own country people are indifferent to, or dismissive of, him.
and as an Atheist (not publicly declared, for why endanger your life unnecessarily), he
2) could well have been seen as an apostate (assuming that somewhere in his ancestry there might have been orthodox Muslims), and killed.
Jane Gitschier Interview With Victor Ambros, first published in PLoS ONE:
I was on shaky footing with RNA interference (RNAi) and microRNAs (miRNAs), and I knew I had to do something about it. As the number of miRNAs in humans escalated and I tried to sort through the twists and turns of the compelling story of their discovery, I turned to a colleague for insight. “Interview 1Victor Ambros,” he said, and I took his advice.
For those of you who might also benefit from a little primer on the topic, RNAi is a well-established phenomenon of using double-stranding RNA to effect gene silencing, and it flourished as an investigative tool years before its connection to the tiny endogenous miRNAs was made. RNAi had been first recognized in plants as a response to infections, and the cellular machinery, such as Argonaut and Dicer, to effect RNAi had also emerged. But these advances had been made without appreciating the cellular fleet of stealth molecules—miRNAs—that had piloted under our radar, scanning and tempering our genome.
I asked Victor Ambros to fill me in on some of these discoveries, moments he shared with his wife Rosalind and his long-term scientific collaborator and friend, Gary Ruvkun. After I had to abort plans to visit Victor in Massachusetts, we eventually settled on a Skype interview, and I persuaded him to shoot his own photo on his computer's photo booth (Image 1). We had a grainy connection but a lot of fun.
Victor grew up on a small farm in Vermont, his father and mother having made the commitment to a rural life, where they set about raising a family of eight children. He went to MIT for undergrad, grad, and post-doctoral work, ventured down Massachusetts Avenue to Harvard for his first job, and managed to slip out of state to Dartmouth for his second. He then returned to the Boston area where he has now settled in at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester.
Gitschier: What do you think funneled you into a career in science?
Ambros: I'm not sure. My earliest recollection was that I dreamed of being a baseball player. But that was until about age 8 or 9. After that, I can't recall not wanting to be a scientist, and I must trace it to reading books that were lying around the house.
I just got intrigued by the tradition of doing science. I read a book about famous inventors and books about astronomers, and decided I wanted to be an astronomer. These were plans and dreams that just sort of came together without any kind of authentic, realistic experience. Just a child reading books and deciding that's what he wanted to do. It seemed like it was a wonderful tradition to be part of—that tradition of scientists and inventors.
Somebody got me a toy telescope when I was young, and I became an amateur astronomer when I was 11 or 12. I built a telescope out of a book. My father encouraged me an awful lot. He was excited that I was interested in science and he would help me with building projects.
Gitschier: He was a hands-on kind of a guy.
Ambros: Yeah, my dad is exceedingly clever. I'd say he is a brilliant man who, because he was born at the wrong time in Europe—in Poland—was caught up in World War II. He went to high school only for a year or so because the schools closed down at the onset of the war. He became essentially a fugitive from the Russians and Germans in Poland. He was captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the War as a forced laborer. He spent from the age of 15 to 19 having no education at all.
When he was liberated by the American army, he worked for the army as an aide to some army officers, and he was exposed to a lot of books in the mansions of the ex-German rich folk, which were being used by the American army as headquarters. That's how he began to teach himself English.
By the time I was born, in 1953, I came to know my dad as someone who was very, very clever, could build almost anything, and was very well-read. It was fun to listen to him talk about books that he had read, and even today we recommend books to each other and discuss them. He speaks four or five languages. My dad is someone whom I admire enormously, especially because I felt that he was someone who had missed an opportunity to be a formally educated person, but he still made a great life for himself and his family.
I remember from a very young age being very conscious of pleasing my dad because of the contrast between what I felt I had, which were all sorts of opportunities, and the opportunities that he missed. So that would help keep me on track—study hard, because after all, that'll please Dad. So he was a very important person for me throughout my childhood and high school. He still is!
Gitschier: Do you mind if I just follow up a little bit more? When you said he was in a forced labor camp, do you mean he was in one of the concentration camps?
Ambros: He's not Jewish; he was Catholic, so he was lucky enough not to be categorically sent to death. He was also able-bodied, so he became incorporated into this system of forced labor that they had in Germany. It was very much like American slavery. People were property. They were essentially rented out or leased to others who were doing work for the government. So my dad became property of the German government, and he worked for a company that processed wood into fuel for trucks.
Gitschier: What happened to his siblings and his parents?
Ambros: Well, his mom and dad had already died when he was still a child. But he had a sister. He lost track of her during the war, but they were reunited in 1960. The Red Cross had a system of registering displaced persons. Eventually names were matched up but it took some years—this was pre-computers. They did not know that the other had survived the war.
She came over here and lived near us until she died just last year.
Gitschier: Do you think you've stayed in New England all these years because of the proximity to your family?
Ambros: Yeah, I would say so. I like New England, and it is nice to be within striking distance. But I did go to MIT, not because it is in New England, but because it was the place I wanted to go to school. We ended up being dug in, in Boston. Also, I'm a person who does like the familiar. Given a choice, I would stay.
Gitschier: Let's move on to some of these major discoveries that you've made. And let's start with your being in Horvitz's lab and working on these things called heterochronic mutants.
Ambros: The term heterochrony referred to a mode of developmental change in evolution, where animals would acquire some change in the relative timing of events, and that would lead to changes in morphology. The classic example is the axolotl, in which the adults retain their gills instead of going through the metamorphosis. Stephen Jay Gould had written extensively about these in his columns in the Natural History magazine. When Bob and I started studying the mutants that had primarily changes in the relative timing of events, we thought it would be cool to co-opt that term to describe the mutants, since the term was already there.
Bob had set up this group at MIT that was bringing a really interesting approach, I thought, to this worm, which was to isolate mutants that were defective in egg laying. And Bob's brilliant insight was that there are so many different ways that a worm could be defective in this behavior of egg laying that it allows access to all kinds of processes and pathways in the animal. A worm can fail to lay eggs because it's missing the apparatus and those would include all sorts of developmental mutants, and from that came the heterochronic mutants, which are the developmental timing mutants that lead to morphological problems in egg laying, and all the signaling mutants, the Ras pathway.
Gitschier: But he couldn't have known at the time that there was going to be a Ras-pathway mutant.
Ambros: It's hard to know what Bob actually anticipated. I think that he anticipated more than we give him credit for—whether it was Ras or FGF [fibroblast growth factor] or you name it, he knew that the animal was developing with enormous precision. Cells were talking to each other and neurons were connecting with muscles. So he got mutants in muscles, nerves, neurotransmitters, development, cell lineages, etc. So actually, these heterochronic mutants were a small subset of a whole series of different classes of mutants that were coming out of those egg-laying screens.
So he assigned the project to me to look at the first of these, which was lin-4, and another gene called unc-86. But I didn't really get any traction with unc-86.
lin-4 was the gene that I actually made some progress on, and that was because suppressors of lin-4 arose spontaneously. One of the first was isolated by Chip Ferguson, who was in the lab at the time. Chip gave this mutant to me and said this mutant suppresses lin-4, and it turned out to be a mutation in lin-14.
That made the link between lin-4 and lin-14, and my contribution was to find some dominant mutations in lin-14 that had the same phenotype as lin-4. So, the loss of function in lin-4 was equivalent in phenotype to a gain-of-function mutation in lin-14. And then we did some epistasis work and decided that a parsimonious scenario was that lin-4 repressed lin-14.
Then Gary Ruvkun came to Bob's lab. He was a molecular biologist, and nobody in the lab was doing molecular biology. So Gary taught us how to make DNA and do restriction digests. Gary and I collaborated on trying to clone lin-14. We made some progress, and we eventually published a paper showing that we had cloned lin-14, without including a sequence! In those days you could get a publication by demonstrating that you had identified a band on a Southern and a piece of cloned probe that represented the gene.
Then Gary focused on the lin-14 project in his lab at MGH [Massachusetts General Hospital] and I and I took the lin-4 project to my lab at Harvard.
Gitschier: I know that you and Gary are very close. Was it part of the design that you were going to stay physically close together in the Boston area?
Ambros: No, that was just accidental. And splitting up the genes was a good idea. In those days, cloning a gene wasn't that straightforward. You didn't have a genome sequence. We were cloning genes purely based on mutation. Transformation rescue hadn't been established yet. Each of us started in our labs in '84…
Gitschier: It was almost a decade then before….[you published on lin-4]…
Ambros: [Laughter] Yeah. Well, we had lots of other projects. What was done in my lab was driven by the interests of the students and the post-docs.
Also, lin-4 was a tough project because there was only one mutation. Even though Bob had been screening and screening for egg-laying defective mutants, and lin-4 was an egg-laying defective mutant, there was only one allele!
Gitschier: In retrospect, do you think that told you that it was going to be a really small gene?
Ambros: Well, we had lots of concerns. There were categories of concerns. One would be that it was a peculiar mutation, called E912. E means it was identified in England in [Sydney] Brenner's lab, it was actually induced by 32P degeneration. John Sulston had been making 32P-labeled worms for doing Cot curves, and a member of the lab screened the progeny of those animals for mutations and ended up getting E912.
So, we were concerned that maybe it's a peculiar kind of [DNA] rearrangement that fuses this thing to that thing in some way and has what's called “neomorphic” activity. So you might be cloning a locus that in retrospect might not really tell you anything about the normal function of either of the respective genes.
Gitschier: Did that kind of concern make it a back burner project?
Ambros: Exactly. To clone these genes, we like to proceed by getting multiple mutations, so that when we get to the gene, we'll be able to identify these mutations.
It really wasn't until my wife, Rosalind Lee, joined the lab, which I think was in 1987, that this really seemed like a perfect project for a research assistant. She was a technician and her career didn't depend on this. She came to try to move along the genetic experiments we were doing to find the locus.
And then Rhonda Feinbaum joined the lab as a post-doc. Rhonda was interested in the project, especially as this would be a team effort between her and Rosalind; it wouldn't be all on one person's shoulders. And over the course of 4 years, the two of them ended up, by dividing up the effort, putting together that story which we ended up publishing in 1993.
Rosalind [known to her friends and colleagues as Candy] did the positional cloning, mapping lin-4 with respect to recombinant chromosomes between two worm strains, and eventually found the DNA lesion associated with the lin-4 mutation using Southern blotting. And it turned out it, the lesion proved to be a deletion and rearrangement, consistent with a 32P degeneration.
Rhonda did complementation rescue experiments, and she and Candy together made the constructs and whittled the gene down. At some point we recognized that the gene product couldn't be a conventional protein-coding gene because we narrowed it down to what looked like an intron of a protein-coding gene. We were able to get rescue of the mutant phenotype fully with just the little piece of DNA—about 700 base pairs.
In parallel, Rhonda also did a very massive screen for new alleles and picked up one new allele, and that turned out to be really useful. This was a point mutation affecting a single nucleotide of the miRNA. It was the lynchpin supporting the conclusion that that the small RNA was the lin-4 gene product.
Gitschier: By the time you figured this all out, it was what, 1991 or '92?
Ambros: Yes, more or less. We wrote this down somewhere! We knew the basic story for almost a year before we published. There was a year or so where our lab and Gary Ruvkun's lab were cleaning up loose ends and putting together a nice pair of complementary papers.
The importance of that relationship with Gary's lab was that Gary was pursuing an analysis of gain-of-function mutations in lin-14. Those dominant mutations that were causing lin-14 to be essentially constitutively expressed developmentally and de-repressed from lin-4 activity were in the 3′ UTR.
Gary had cloned a gene from another nematode species and did RNA alignments to try to identify conserved sequences that may be important. He was developing a hypothesis that the 3′ UTR was a site where the lin-4 gene product would bind. So it became really important to find out what the lin-4 gene product was.
We anticipated that the stories would converge, so we were staying in touch. When Rhonda and Rosalind were zeroing in on this small piece of DNA and showing ultimately that the transcript from that region was really short—the main transcript was only 21 or 22 nucleotides. At that point we shared the sequence with Gary because he said, “We have sequences from these two species, and we should line them up and see whether there is some sort of anti-sense base pairing.”
It was actually pretty obvious once we did the alignment that there had to be anti-sense base pairing. lin-4 matched the lin-14 3′ UTR in several places, and all of those places were conserved between the two species. And Candy had shown that lin-4 was conserved between those species, as well, so here we had a little, well-conserved RNA, and the complementarity to lin-14 was conserved. That was really cool.
Gitschier: Were you feeling pressure from Gary to get this lin-4?
Ambros: I'm sure there was a healthy competitive component there. I was thinking, “Well this matters to somebody else, so we really need to push it forward.”
Gitschier: Sounds more collaborative, though, than competitive.
Ambros: Well, from my perspective the competitive aspect was [that] you wanted to do at least a good a job as Gary was doing in his part. The pressure was: you don't want to get your part wrong! It was very nice that the sharing of the data and looking at the RNA sequence together came from a desire to make sure that the experience was a good one—good for me and for him. I didn't want to be the one who missed it when he got it. And I didn't want to be the one who got it if he missed it, because that wouldn't feel right either. So we said, we'll exchange sequences and we'll look at it together.
Gitschier: Were you on the phone while you were both looking at it?
Ambros: We sent the sequences to each other and said let's look at this and call back this evening and see what we see. So we called and said, “Do you see it?” “Yes, I see it!”
Gitschier: That must have been really exciting.
Ambros: It was. And it felt good. That we had found something and that we had found it together.
Gitschier: OK, now let's talk briefly about RNAi and how you eventually realized that lin-4 fitted into that story.
Ambros: The phenomenon of RNAi had been described and studied in plants before Fire and Mello had hit on this double-stranded RNA [dsRNA] trigger concept in 1999. So it was already known that this phenomenon in plants and animals seemed to smell the same—an epigenetic gene silencing mechanism.
That didn't immediately help us appreciate miRNAs. We had found lin-4 in 1993, and even though we showed it formed a dsRNA precursor, we didn't connect that to dsRNA-based phenomenon called RNAi that Fire and Mello found.
Gitschier: Because at that time, the RNAi people were talking about things that were brought in to the cell.
Ambros: That's right. At that point, it was a mysterious capacity for the animal to respond. So it wasn't clear what this represented in terms of endogenous mechanisms. The animal was too good at it for it not to be deeply important. And then there were a rapid series of discoveries, where Mello, in one of his important contributions that helped win the [Nobel] Prize for him, was finding Argonaut—that there were these conserved proteins that were required for the silencing in worms.
But, it wasn't until David Baulcombe found that the silencing process in plants involved the formation of very short—about 22-25 nucleotides—dsRNAs, that indicated that in plants, and probably by implication in animals, that the long double-stranded RNA precursor was being processed to a short molecule.
And I remember seeing that result and thinking, “Hmm, that looks a lot like lin-4.”
The point of the story I'm going to tell you now is how interesting it is that we—at least I—was so resistant to a new idea. We thought that lin-4 could be just specific to worms, because Candy had actually tried to find lin-4 molecules in other species and couldn't find them. And now we know that this little RNA isn't conserved well enough to detect by hybridization.
So, Baulcombe has found this stuff in plants and it's associated with RNAi. So maybe this helps explain how lin-4 biogenesis works; it must be that it has co-opted the RNAi machinery to be processed. So, you see what I'm saying—not that lin-4 represented some broad class of things…
Gitschier:… that were fundamental.
Ambros: Yeah. Maybe it's just a special case of how a system can co-opt the RNAi machinery to make a gene product that is a small RNA product.
And it wasn't until finally Gary found let-7 in C. elegans, with a sequence completely different from lin-4, that [we realized] in nematodes the same thing had evolved twice. But personally, it didn't trigger me to think that lin-4 and let-7 must be part of something very broad and conserved in all animals. Still, in my mind it was a special nematode thing.
Until Gary published his Nature paper in 2000 showing that let-7 was conserved in sequence in all these animals—sea urchins, mammals… And that was a total revelation. It was a watershed discovery that made me instantly go from a pessimist to an optimist. I said to myself that there must be more small RNAs like lin-4 and let-7, and in other animals. It was really exciting. To open that Nature and say, “Holy cow! The way I've been looking at things is totally wrong.”
Gitschier: Didn't you know about Gary's work before the paper came out?
Ambros: He kept it secret! It was really cool.
Gitschier: I loved what you said in the Lasker Award commentary [in Nature Medicine] that after reading their paper you literally had to sit down for 10 minutes and look out the window to reorder your view of the universe.
Ambros: Right, so Candy and I immediately started cloning those things, and we were very naïve; we thought we were the only ones doing it. That was another adventure.
Gitschier: Actually, that was another thing I liked about both your and Gary's commentaries. It was just so great the way you referred to your spouses as being important contributors to the work. I was touched.
Ambros: I think that what Gary and I were trying to get at, independently, was the question of what's the point, really, of an award, like the Lasker Award? Basically, I feel lucky to be there, because if it weren't for a whole lot of stuff that I did not control, the award wouldn't have happened. If I hadn't happened to work in David Baltimore's lab, I probably wouldn't have been noticed by Bob Horvitz, and if I hadn't been in Bob Horvitz's lab, I wouldn't have even worked on this system. And, if Candy hadn't come to work in the lab, none of this project would have happened. And, if my father hadn't encouraged me… It just gets out of control if you think about what can lead to a moment like getting an award.
And so it has very little to do, frankly, with the particular person getting the award. What the award represents is a process that involves interactions amongst many, many people. And the end, one person ends up getting the award. It's really important to try to acknowledge that and understand the fact that really everything that happens in science, including the discoveries that people try to acknowledge by awards, are really the products of this confluence of people's histories and people's interactions. I really believe that science gets done by people with average abilities and talents, for the most part, and when something special happens, enough so that people want to acknowledge it with an award, it was really…in large part…luck!
We try to say to the public, here's an award for somebody who's really, really special. But actually, it's not the somebody who is really special, it's the science that is special. The way we do science, and the way it works is so amazing. I wish non-scientists would better understand this. That science is a community exercise, that it involves people interacting, that it involves a lot of good fortune in the context of people trying to do something really carefully and following curiosity. That's why it works so well!
You're preaching to the choir, but the idea is that science remains fun and it is a tremendous adventure. It's great that you do these columns because it reminds people of why we all do science. It's through the stories that we are reminded.
Al Qaa, Lebanon: About 20 armed men enter a dilapidated barn in northeastern Lebanon, preparing to sneak across the border and fight alongside their Syrian “brothers” against the regime in Damascus.
The young men decide to rest briefly at the farm near Al Qaa in the Bekaa Valley, their arms and baggage placed against a wall.
The volunteers’ aim is to join the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is made up mostly of Syrian army deserters.
Reclining on mattresses on the ground, they dip bread into tins of sardines or tuna, their evening meal.
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“We will cross the border to go to Idlib (in northwest Syria). The FSA is trying to retake the city and needs all the help it can get. Let’s go for it,” says Abdul Hakim says in decent English.
Like his comrades, the young man from the Baalbek region has dropped everything to go fight in Syria. For security reasons, they choose not to reveal their full identities.
“I worked in a mobile phone shop and with my savings I bought an old Kalashnikov on the black market and 10 magazines,” Bilal says.
“This is the first time I leave Lebanon and it’s to fight in Syria. I’m afraid when I see the images on TV but I’m prepared to die if God wills. For my family, it would be an honour if I became a martyr of the Syrian revolution,” Bilal says.
“They are our brothers. We must rush to their help,” he says.
“I live in a village controlled by [the pro-Syrian Shiite movement] Hezbollah. There, everyone supports President [Bashar Al ] Assad and if you say otherwise you can get into a lot of trouble,” Bilal says.
He says the authorities in Lebanon have sided with Al Assad’s regime.
“Lebanon plays an important role in what is happening in Syria. It closes its border and pursues those who support the FSA, while Shiite militiamen cross freely to fight alongside the regime. It’s time to balance things out.”
The most outwardly religious of the group, Osama Salem, spells out his goal.
“We are going to Syria to carry out jihad [holy war] with our Syrian brothers and overthrow the tyrant [Al] Assad ... Since the international community has chosen to do nothing ... it must be Muslims themselves who solve the problem.”
He fingers his prayer beads while listening to Quran on his mobile.
“You tell me that it’s Al Qaida or Islamic fundamentalist groups fighting in Syria ... If they are, it’s only your [the West’s] fault for allowing Bashar Al Assad to stay in power by killing people,” he says, stroking his beard.
Some young Syrians are also in the group. They live in the border area of Arsal, where they have fled in past months.
“Every Syrian family living in the region of Arsal has one or two members fighting for the FSA,” says Zaid, explaining that families finance the purchase of weapons on the black market.
“We buy weapons from the soldiers of Bashar Al Assad. We buy assault rifles, grenades, RPGs, but now we need heavy weapons and missiles to destroy tanks and helicopters,” he says.
“A Kalashnikov is good for killing people, but it is useless against an armoured vehicle,” he says coldly.
“Here, nobody helps us. Neither Qatar nor Saudi Arabia give us money to buy weapons or ammunition. They help us by giving food,” he says, referring to Al Assad’s most outspoken Arab opponents.
International envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged the failure so far of his mission to bring peace to Syria, as more than 60 people were killed in violence on Saturday that also spilled over into Lebanon.
Wilders and Gaffney Speak on Islamization Threat at Western Conservative Summit in Denver
Former Colorado Senate President John Andrews
introduces the Hon. Geert Wilders at Western Conservative
Summit, Denver, June 30, 2012
Last weekend, the Hon. Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Dutch parliament spoke at the Western Conservative Summit (WCS) in Denver. He was foremost among a galaxy of conservative stars who spoke at the WCS. More than 1000 attended the event, the third such forum sponsored by the Centennial Institute of Colorado Christian University (CCU) headed by former Colorado Senate President John Andrews. Wilders, author of Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Meand Frank Gaffney, Jr., President of the Washington, DC –based Center for Security Policy addressed the Islamization threat here in America. At least one Colorado legislator suggested that perhaps it was time for the state to consider a ban on construction of mosques. This has become a controversial issue, given recent rulings in a Tennessee court that may forestall the opening of the expanded project of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Watch this C-SPAN video of both Gaffney and Wilders addressing the WCS.
Not much on the event and the messages of both Wilders and Gaffney filtered through to the mainstream press, engaged as it is in self-censorship of criticism of Islamic doctrine. It was left to the limited circulation The Colorado Statesman and Iran’s Press TV to report this weekend on the forum and what transpired there.
Andrews of CCU set the stage for Wilders’ talk in his introductory remarks:
Saturday afternoon’s topic, Andrews said, would be “the existential threat to the United States of America posed by Islam.”
Pausing for a moment to let his words sink in, he continued. “I didn’t say ‘radical Islam,’ I didn’t say ‘extremism.’ After you hear from Frank Gaffney and our friend from across the Atlantic, Geert Wilders, you’ll know why I just say ‘the threat of Islam.’”
Wilders in his remarks at the Denver forum conveyed the central concerns in his book and speeches to audiences on both the continent and here in America:
For his part, Wilders emphasized what he described as a distinction between followers of Islam and the religion itself.
“I do not have a problem with Muslims,” Wilders said during his address. “There are many moderate Muslims. I always make a distinction between the people and the ideology. There are indeed many moderate Muslims. But believe me, there is no such thing as a moderate Islam — there is only one Islam, and that is a dangerous, totalitarian ideology that is intolerant, that is violent, that should not be tolerated by us but that should be contained.”
Wilders warned against opening the door to Sharia law — based on traditional Islamic principles — in Western courtrooms but added that it was already too late to keep Islam and its influences out of the country entirely.
“Your country is facing a stealth jihad, an Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia law bit by bit by bit,” he said.
In order to keep the United States from succumbing, Wilders said, politicians have to ignore what he promised would be derision from the liberal media and other quarters and firmly deliver strong medicine. First, he said, Americans have to stop putting up with “multiculturalism,” even as free-speech proponents cry foul. In addition, he said American courtrooms must bar Sharia law and “stop the immigration from Islamic countries.”
Most critically, he said, “We should forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in the West already.”
Wilders’ comment on a ban on mosque construction resonated with a Colorado lawmaker, Senator Kevin Grantham that was picked up in the Press TV account:
A Colorado state Senator is raising some eyebrows for praising a Dutch lawmaker’s anti-Islam crusade, saying in an interview that the lawmaker’s proposal to ban the construction of new mosques was worth considering in the United States.
According to the Colorado Statesman, Senator Kevin Grantham attended the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this past week, where Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders delivered a speech calling Islam a “dangerous, totalitarian ideology” and saying that to stop the threat of creeping Sharia law, American legislators should ban the construction of new mosques.
In an interview with the paper after the speech, Grantham said Wilders’ fear of an Islam was “warranted”, and that his anti-mosque plan was worth hearing out.
Regarding Wilders’ suggestion that Western governments ban construction of new mosques, Grantham said it was worth considering.
“You know, we’d have to hear more on that, because, as he said, mosques are not churches like we would think of churches”, Grantham said. “They think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches - we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those”.
Gaffney of the CSP focused in his WCS remarks on the evidence of the Muslim Brotherhood influence campaign in America. The Colorado Statesman noted:
Former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney — something of a pariah in right-wing circles since he began accusing anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of helping radical Muslims infiltrate the conservative movement — riled up the crowd immediately before Wilders spoke with a preview of a 10-hour video series called “The Muslim Brotherhood in America.” The series charges that a cabal of Muslims is staging a stealthy conquest of the United States by pretending to be moderate while ascending the rungs of power.
Gaffney called on conservatives at the summit to boycott the American Conservative Union’s regional Conservative Political Action Conference — known as CPAC — set to take place in Denver on Oct. 4, the day after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, unless the organization renounces its association with individuals Gaffney claims have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Wilders received a standing ovation from many at the WCS forum. Local radio Denver radio personality attorney Craig Silverman who introduced Wilders noted ruefully that he had voted for President Obama in 2008:
“I thought Barack Hussein Obama was ideally situated to speak simple truths to the Islamic world,” Silverman said, adding that instead, the president “wouldn’t do it, he did not do it, and he will not do it.”
Saying he feared for America’s safety and for the very survival of Israel, Silverman declared that he has read few books in recent years that affected him as profoundly as Wilders’ memoir.
“Geert Wilders is a great man,” Silverman said. “He refuses to be intimidated. He is a profile in courage.”