Tip-toeing around reality of barbarity

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The Daily Telegraph (Sydney)
29 Jun 2015

Tip toeingFrench police near the scene of another atrocity committed in the name of Islam. Picture: AFP
The Prime Minister is wrong. I’m sure Tony Abbott knows it, too, but does not dare publicly tell the truth about Islamic terrorism. Abbott insists Islam had nothing to do with last week’s shooting of tourists in Tunisia, bombing of Shia worshippers in Kuwait and beheading of a man in France.
“What’s being done by Daesh (the Islamic State) has nothing to do with God, it has nothing to do with religion,” he claimed on Saturday. Is he kidding us? The Islamic State, which claims credit for the two worst attacks and is linked to the beheading, has nothing to do with Islam? For heaven’s sake, we can all read. “Islam” is in the very title of this terrorist outfit.
And if religion had nothing to do with the attacks, why has Tunisia’s president ordered 80 of the country’s mosques to be closed in response?
Let’s end this polite lie, which blinds us to the steps we must take to defend ourselves.
Sure, Western leaders should not provoke or demonise the many Muslims now living among us, quickly growing from too few to worry about to too many to offend.
That’s why French President Francois Hollande claimed even the Charlie Hebdo killers “have nothing to do with the Muslim religion”, even though they’d bragged on tape they had “avenged the Prophet” by killing 12 people at the magazine that mocked Mohammed.
Hollande has 5 million French Muslims to placate, after all.
But Islam is at the heart of the Islamic State, and dozens of other Islamic terrorist groups.
Take the statement the Islamic State issued on Twitter to justify this slaughter of 38 people at the Tunisian resort town of Sousse.
Why were the tourists — mostly British, Belgian and German — killed? Because they were in “dens (of) fornication, vice and apostasy in the city of Sousse” and the “subjects of states that make up the crusader alliance fighting the state of the caliphate”.
They were enemies of Islam, committing sins against Islam, says the Islamic State. And this has nothing to do with Islam?
Rubbish. In fact, the Islamic State regularly quotes the Koran and sacred Surah to justify its every barbarity.
Its infamous statement last year ordering Muslims around the world to kill unbelievers quoted holy scripture at least 25 times in support.
Those quotations included this, from the Koran: “Kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.”
And this, also from the Koran, justifying the Islamic State’s liking for decapitation: “He the Exalted said: ‘So when you meet those who disbelieve (in battle), strike (their) necks’.”
The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State even produced a pamphlet last year quoting the Koran to let its soldiers enslave and rape hundreds of Yazidi women.
“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive,” it declared.
“Allah the almighty said: ‘(Successful are the believers) who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess …”
Scripture is similarly quoted by most of the world’s terrorist groups, which share the Koranic view that Mohammed divided the world into two parts — Dar al Islam, where Islamic law rules, and Dar al Harb, the land of war, where Muslims live at best only in a state of truce.
Such teachings seem so likely to licence violence that it can’t be a coincidence that 19 of the 20 terrorist groups proscribed by the Australian government are explicitly Muslim.
It can’t be a coincidence that all 20 men convicted of terrorism here are Muslim, too.
Nor can it be a coincidence that Muslims are involved in most of the world’s terrorist conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Alge- ria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Britain, France, Denmark, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Indonesia, China and the United States.
Yes, the vast majority of Muslims hate the horrors we now see. We must never forget that and make enemies of moderates.
Muslims are also the main victims — even if Muslim terrorists usually kill other Muslims for not being Muslim enough.
But does that really prove the terrorists aren’t truly Muslim? That, as US president Barack Obama claims, they merely “distorted” a “great religion”?
How badly we’ve wanted that to be true. Who wants to offend our Muslim friends? Who wants to think Western countries have imported a conflict that will dog us for generations? And who wants to be sued or threatened?
So we’ve waited in hope — and growing despair — for those many Muslim moderates to revolt against the extremists who have made their faith seem hateful.
Think: if Christian terrorists were beheading, shooting, crucifying, raping and bombing thousands of people around the planet, wouldn’t we expect huge marches of Christians in our streets, crying “not in our name”?
But we’ve had none from Muslims. If there’s a protest, it’s almost always against the government for defending us or allegedly picking on Muslims. Why this near silence?
That silence is what drove the frustrated Prime Minister to say: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”
And it goaded Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to tell the imams at Egypt’s famous al Azhar universi- ty in January to create a “religious revolution” to rescue Islam from centuries of “false” thinking that had made Muslims “a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world”.
“Is it possible that 1.6 billion people (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live?” Sisi stormed. “Impossible!” But still we wait for that revolution. That reformation. Will we ever see it? Clive Kessler, emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of NSW, has studied Islam for 50 years and is gloomy.
He says most mainstream Muslims don’t speak out because they actually “share a common mindset and set of attitudes” — that Islam must triumph — even if they don’t accept the radicals’ means.
“The difference is that those in the mainstream tend to accept and go along with them habitually, while the radical Islamist ideologues take those framing ideas seriously and literally, and seek to affirm them actively,” Kessler said.
Kessler’s conclusion is grim: “If this is the case … strategies of deradicalisation cannot work. They are doomed from the start.”
But Anooshe Mushtaq, a Canberra-based Muslim adviser on Islamic radicalisation, says to make them work we must face the truth: groups like the Islamic State have a lot to do with Islam.
“The propaganda is laden with religious symbolism and hidden meanings, drawing on teachings from the Koran and cultural traditions dating back a thousand years,” she wrote in The Australian.
Yes, it’s a voice of Islam speaking. Deal with it, or we’re lost.