Le fascisme est bien plus sain que n’importe quelle conception hédoniste de la vie (…) Alors que le socialisme et même le capitalisme – plus à contrecoeur – ont dit aux gens: « Je vous offre du bon temps », Hitler leur a dit: « Je vous offre la lutte, le danger et la mort » et le résultat a été qu’un nation entière se jeta à ses pieds. Orwell
Le fait est qu’il y a quelque chose de profondément attirant chez lui. […] Hitler sait que les êtres humains ne veulent pas seulement du confort, de la sécurité, des journées de travail raccourcies, de l’hygiène, de la contraception et du bon sens en général ; ils souhaitent aussi, au moins de temps en temps, vivre de luttes et de sacrifice de soi, sans mentionner les tambours, les drapeaux et les défilés patriotiques. George Orwell
D’après de récentes informations, Ben Laden a obtenu de la part d’un religieux saoudien dévoyé un édit l’autorisant à utiliser l’arme nucléaire contre l’Amérique. Avec cela, plus rien ne fera reculer ceux qui ont commis les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 s’ils ont la possibilité de causer mille fois plus de morts. Imaginez l’impact qu’aurait l’explosion d’une arme atomique à New York, Londres, Paris, Sydney ou Los Angeles, ou pire, deux ou trois ! Toute la civilisation moderne est fondée sur des bases économiques et technologiques que les terroristes veulent détruire. Deux bombes ont permis la destruction de l’industrie touristique de Bali en 2002. Quel serait l’effet d’une attaque encore plus dévastatrice ? Il est temps de reconnaître le danger qui nous menace, un danger pour notre existence même qui trouve sa source dans le wahabisme et le salafisme. Abdurrahman Wahid (Ancien président de l’Indonésie, 30 décembre 2005)
Obama demande pardon pour les faits et gestes de l’Amérique, son passé, son présent et le reste, il s’excuse de tout. Les relations dégradées avec la Russie, le manque de respect pour l’Islam, les mauvais rapports avec l’Iran, les bisbilles avec l’Europe, le manque d’adulation pour Fidel Castro, tout lui est bon pour battre la coulpe de l’Amérique. Plus encore, il célèbre la contribution (totalement inexistante) de l’Islam à l’essor de l’Amérique, et il se fend d’une révérence au sanglant et sectaire roi d’Arabie, l’Abdullah de la haine. Il annule la ceinture anti-missiles sise en Alaska et propose un désarmement nucléaire inutile. (…) Plus encore, cette déplorable Amérique a semé le désordre et le mal partout dans le monde. Au lieu de collaborer multilatéralement avec tous, d’œuvrer au bien commun avec Poutine, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Bachir al-Assad, et Cie, l’insupportable Bush en a fait des ennemis. (…) Il n’y a pas d’ennemis, il n’y a que des malentendus. Il ne peut y avoir d’affrontements, seulement des clarifications. Laurent Murawiec
Dans l’après-midi du jeudi 12 février, les cinq garçons se trouvent une occupation pendant leurs vacances scolaires : aller au cimetière juif. Ils commencent à jouer et là, selon le procureur de Saverne, « le jeu a dérapé ». Un premier acte déclenche « une sorte de frénésie collective ». Les stèles sont lourdes, mais anciennes et fragiles : ils les cassent une à une. Ils font des saluts nazis. Ils crachent sur les symboles juifs. En guise d’accompagnement sonore, ils crient ces mots : « Sales juifs », « Sale race », « Heil Hitler », « Sieg Heil ». (…) Les cinq mineurs n’ont aucun antécédent judiciaire. La justice ne leur connaît pas « de convictions idéologiques qui pourraient expliquer leur comportement », note le procureur. Ils sont issus de « familles bien », qui « ne posent pas de problèmes particuliers et ne sont pas dans le besoin », affirme-t-on à la mairie de Sarre-Union. L’un est le fils d’une institutrice, l’autre le petit-fils d’un proviseur. Tous sont « calmes, discrets, pas bagarreurs, n’ont rien de spécial », disent leurs camarades. Quatre sur les cinq habitent Sarre-Union, trois y sont scolarisés dans l’unique lycée. Les élèves de catégorie socio-professionnelle (CSP) favorisée y sont légèrement en dessous de la moyenne académique, les CSP défavorisés sont légèrement au-dessus, mais le taux de réussite au bac se situe entre 90 % et 100 %. « Un établissement sans problème particulier », assure Jacques-Pierre Gougeon, recteur de l’académie de Strasbourg. Pierre B. avait étrangement un ennemi déclaré : « le fascisme ». Il portait des slogans antifascistes sur ses vêtements. « On ne parlait pas politique mais si on évoquait le Front national, il se mettait sur ses deux pattes arrière et se mettait à grogner, raconte Gaëtan. Il prétendait se battre contre le fascisme et était très remonté contre la police. Il traitait les policiers et les militaires de fascistes, avec une hargne qui me mettait mal à l’aise. » Pierre était parti au lycée de Sarrebourg (Moselle) mais il passait voir ses copains à Sarre-Union. La mort récente de son père l’avait rendu un peu plus distant. (…) L’Alsace, région limitrophe de l’Allemagne et ballottée par l’Histoire, est « l’une des régions où le travail sur le passé et la mémoire est le plus important », souligne M. Gougeon. Cours de religion, conférences de témoins de la Shoah, parfois voyages à Auschwitz… (…) Le profil des cinq jeunes n’est pas la seule énigme. Le petit cimetière de Sarre-Union, joli et discret, en est à sa sixième profanation depuis la Libération. Les précédents les plus marquants ont eu lieu en 1988 et 2001. Le sociologue Freddy Raphaël relève que « les trois quarts des cimetières juifs de la campagne alsacienne ont été profanés à un moment ou à un autre ». Il constate presque à chaque fois les mêmes stratégies de défense : réduire la profanation au rang du vandalisme. Les cinq mineurs de Sarre-Union ont usé du même argument : « On croyait que c’était abandonné », « on ne savait pas que c’était un cimetière juif… » Dans les villages d’Alsace, les cimetières juifs présentent il est vrai un avantage pour les profanateurs : ils sont toujours situés un peu à l’écart du village. Un double effet de l’existence d’un « judaïsme rural », spécifique en France à l’Alsace, et de la Révolution française, qui donna aux juifs le statut de citoyens français et leur permit enfin de bénéficier d’un cimetière de proximité. A une condition toutefois : que celui-ci se situe à la marge du bourg, et à un endroit que personne n’aurait envie de leurs disputer : là où l’équarrisseur enterrait ses bêtes crevées, ou sur ce terrain en pente près d’une rivière, donc humide et difficilement constructible, comme à Sarre-Union. Si l’on est vandale et antisémite, il y a ici un autre avantage : les cimetières juifs ruraux d’Alsace sont peu fréquentés. La Shoah et, pour les survivants, l’exode vers les villes, ont fait disparaître des villages la population juive. Il reste trois juifs à Sarre-Union, dont le « représentant de la communauté juive de Sarre-Union », Jacques Wolff. Ils étaient 400 familles au XVIIIe siècle. Les cimetières juifs ont toujours l’air vieux. Il n’y a plus de descendants pour entretenir les tombes et contrairement aux cimetières chrétiens, les concessions sont perpétuelles. Les morts ne s’en vont pas. « Cela joue dans l’inconscient collectif », souligne Claude Heymann, adjoint au grand rabbin de Strasbourg. Le cimetière se dit en hébreu « la maison des vivants » (Beth Ha’Haym). C’est l’image du juif qui est toujours là, qui aurait dû disparaître et qui revient. Encore de l’eau au moulin des antisémites : « Le juif est toujours celui qui s’en sort. » Pour le rabbin Heymann, la profanation du cimetière de Sarre-Union va au-delà de l’antisémitisme. « Cet acte est représentatif de l’incapacité pour les jeunes d’entrevoir un avant eux-mêmes. Ils vivent dans un monde virtuel et autocentré. Il n’y a qu’eux, le présent, leurs parents, leurs grands-parents s’ils les voient. En cela, c’est emblématique d’une époque. » Le Monde
There is a slogan repeated continuously by apologetic ‘du’at’ [callers for Islam] when flirting with the West and that is their statement: ‘Islam is the religion of peace,’ and they mean pacifism by the word peace. They have repeated this slogan so much to the extent that some of them alleged that Islam calls [for] permanent peace with kufr and the kafirin [unbelievers]. How far is their claim from the truth, for Allah has revealed Islam to be the religion of the sword, and the evidence for this is so profuse that only a zindiq (heretic) would argue otherwise. Islamic State
These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews — and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision. George Bush (November 11, 2005)
L’analogie que nous utilisons ici parfois, et je pense que c’est exact, c’est que si une équipe de juniors met l’uniforme des Lakers, cela n’en fait pas des Kobe Bryant. Obama (27 janvier 2014)
Al-Qaïda et le groupe Etat islamique recherchent désespérément une légitimité. Ils tentent de se dépeindre comme des leaders religieux et ils diffusent l’idée que l’Occident est en guerre contre l’islam. Nous ne devons jamais accepter les principes qu’ils mettent en avant, et nous devons leur refuser la légitimité qu’ils recherchent. Ce ne sont pas des leaders religieux, ce sont des terroristes ! Barack Obama
The United States does not support Egyptian and Emirati airstrikes against Islamist militias in Libya because the U.S. believes the crisis in Libya must be resolved politically and without outside interference. Department of Defense spokesman
Nous parlons des terroristes de l’Etat islamique, mais nous avons oublié que le régime syrien tue davantage, chaque jour. Ils sont passés sous la couverture radar. Nous sommes distraits par le groupe Etat islamique. Il doit bien entendu être éliminé, tout comme le régime, qui est la cause de tout ce problème, doit être éliminé. Oussama Jammal (Conseil américain des organisations musulmanes)
Le problème est le message et les actes, c’est ça l’important. Si nous étions clairement en faveur d’une paix juste, équitable et durable entre Israéliens et Palestiniens, ce serait vraiment important. Les actes comptent plus que les vecteurs d’information. Riedel (Institut Brookings)
A particularly virulent strain of extremist ideology has tried to insert itself in the Muslim community.(…) They would love nothing more than for the U.S. or the West to engage in a religious war. This is not a religious war. This is not a war on Islam. White House press secretary Josh Earnest
Here he has the summit, no heads of government coming, the participation has not been at a particularly high level. We’ll have foreign ministers, we’ll be speaking to the Egyptian foreign minister shortly, who will be participating, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of support from Europe or the Middle East at a very high level for what the president is setting out here. It seems to be more of a dog and pony show. Andrea Mitchell
President Obama claims he inherited a mess in the Middle East. Not so. (…) In Iraq, U.S. strategy hinged on forcing the fledgling democracy to create loose alliances between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, with the understanding that they would all resist both al-Qaeda and Iranian-sponsored Shiite affiliates. And from 2009 to 2011, consensual government in Iraq seemed to be working, albeit mostly through the implied threats that nearby U.S. troops would intervene if it did not. The country was more quiet than not. Indeed, the U.S. military there was losing more personnel each month to accidents than to combat. In December 2009, three Americans were killed in Iraq — the lowest figure for any month since the war began. In December 2011, no Americans were lost. Obama, who had opposed the Iraq war, termed the country “secure” and “stable.” Vice President Joe Biden, who as senator had voted for the war, bragged that it might become the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement.” American proconsuls kept the pressure on Iranophile Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to treat Sunni tribes more equitably, and to keep Iraqi territory free of the Iranian military. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was comatose. Most Sunni Islamists had no desire for a replay of the Anbar Awakening and the Surge. Then, for the sake of a 2012 reelection campaign point, Obama pulled out all U.S. constabulary troops at the end of 2011. The result was a void that drew in the dregs of the Middle East, as ISIS and the Iranian-back militias fought over the corpse of what used to be Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the administration proclaimed empty red lines to Assad, in the manner it had given Iran empty deadlines — even as President Obama called ISIS a “jayvee” team that posed little threat to the U.S., or at least no more worries than what street criminals pose to the average big-city mayor. A growing ISIS soon appealed to disenchanted Sunni tribes who felt that they had been ostracized by Baghdad, even as Iran encouraged the Iraqi government to ostracize them even more. The ayatollahs’ great fear from 2008 to 2011 was that a viable, consensual Iraq on their border might weaken their theocratic control in Iran. Such anxiety vanished, replaced by a new confidence that, in the absence of U.S. garrisons, Tehran had turned Iraq into a vassal state. Victor Davis Hanson
The NATO allies are terrified that Putin will next attack the NATO-member Baltic states — and that their own paralysis will mean the embarrassing end of the once-noble alliance. The United States has now fled from four Middle Eastern countries. It forfeited its post-surge victory in Iraq. It was chased out of Libya after the killings of Americans in Benghazi. American red lines quickly turned pink in Syria. U.S. Marines just laid down their weapons and flew out of the closed American embassy in Yemen. America has convinced its European partners to drop tough sanctions against Iran. In the manner of the Allies in 1938 at Munich, they prefer instead to charm Iran, in hopes it will stop making a nuclear bomb. The Islamic State has used almost a year of unchallenged aggression to remake the map of the Middle East. President Obama had variously dismissed it as a jayvee team or merely akin to the problems that big-city mayors face. Europeans pay out millions to ransom their citizens from radical Islamic hostage-beheaders. Americans handed over terrorist kingpins to get back a likely Army deserter. Then we come to the return of the Jewish question. Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, Jews are once again leaving France. They have learned that weak governments either will not or cannot protect them from Islamic terrorists. In France, radical Islamists recently targeted a kosher market. In Denmark, they went after a synagogue. In South Africa, students demanded the expulsion of Jewish students from a university. A Jewish prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina was found mysteriously murdered. Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being blamed for stoking Middle Eastern tensions. Who cares that he resides over the region’s only true democracy, one that is stable and protects human rights? Obama-administration aides have called him a coward and worse. President Obama has dismissed the radical Islamists’ targeting of Jews in France merely as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.” Putin, the Islamic State, and Iran at first glance have as little in common as did Germany, Italy, and Japan. But like the old Axis, they are all authoritarians that share a desire to attack their neighbors. And they all hate the West. The grandchildren of those who appeased the dictators of the 1930s once again prefer in the short term to turn a blind eye to the current fascists. And the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust once again get blamed. The 1930s should have taught us that aggressive autocrats do not have to like each other to share hatred of the West. The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war. And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first — but not the last — to be targeted by terrorists, thugs, and autocrats. Victor Davis Hanson
Il est très important que les musulmans répondent aux questions qui leur sont adressées : pourquoi ces criminels ont-ils pu interpréter le Coran et l’islam dans un sens qui les a conduits à justifier leurs agissements? Récemment, j’ai entendu ici un imam expliquer que les musulmans avaient le droit de répondre à l’injustice par leur coeur, leur tête ou leurs mains. Un de ses fidèles a rétorqué que c’était ce que les criminels avaient fait à Paris, en prenant des kalachnikovs au nom des injustices qu’ils dénonçaient. On est là au coeur du débat. Ces criminels ont construit leur démonstration à partir de l’islam. Dire que l’islam n’a rien à voir avec leurs actions, c’est vraiment absurde. (…) Les musulmans européens doivent faire pression sur leurs leaders religieux pour qu’ils se saisissent de ce débat. Si, aujourd’hui, je suis à la recherche sur Google d’un cheikh, d’un guide spirituel, je tomberai seulement sur des vidéos de radicaux. Pourquoi les leaders religieux modérés sont-ils absents d’Internet ? Pourquoi n’y apparaissent-ils pas pour donner leur propre version du Coran? (…) Nous avons la chance de bénéficier, en Occident, d’une liberté d’expression qui nous autorise à poser des questions dans l’espace public sans encourir de châtiment. N’ayons pas peur d’utiliser cette liberté. (…) Chacun a tendance à comprendre ce qui l’arrange. J’entends trop souvent : « Je condamne ce qui s’est passé à Paris, mais… ». Il n’y a pas de « mais » possible. Une condamnation collective et visible par les représentants de l’islam servirait à la stabilité sociale et à une meilleure compréhension des musulmans néerlandais. Cela agirait comme un remède social. Malheureusement, j’ai échoué à organiser un tel mouvement de condamnation, alors qu’il s’est manifesté en Allemagne grâce à la communauté turque, dotée d’une plus forte conscience politique que celles des Marocains et des Algériens des Pays-Bas et de France. Le taux d’illettrisme des Marocains vivant aux Pays-Bas est, il est vrai, élevé, et beaucoup dans cette communauté n’ont accès à l’islam qu’en écoutant les imams, pas en lisant le Livre saint. (…) Il faut distinguer plusieurs cercles. Ceux qui sont à la marge peuvent être ramenés dans le giron de la cité par un travail d’éducation, d’intégration et de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’égalité des chances. A ceux qui veulent vivre à Raqqa [en Syrie], siège du groupe Etat islamique, je dis : si telle est votre volonté, soyez conséquent et rendez-moi votre passeport. Car le passeport néerlandais, c’est plus qu’un document de voyage : c’est une partie de votre identité et un engagement de défendre la société ouverte fondée sur le compromis qui est celle des Pays- Bas. Si vous ne vous reconnaissez pas dans ces valeurs, partez et allez demander à M.Baghdadi [chef de l’organisation Etat islamique] de nouveaux papiers d’identité ! Ce disant, j’assume mon désaccord avec la politique actuelle du gouvernement, qui confisque les passeports des candidats au djihad afin de les empêcher de partir.(…) Arrêtons de les appeler « radicaux ». Etre radical, c’est un droit dans une société démocratique. Mais ceux qui recourent aux armes, comme en France, sont des criminels qui relèvent de la police et des services de sécurité. Il faut les mettre hors d’état de nuire. (…) Certains élus mettent en avant les conditions sociales défavorables, les discriminations, l’échec scolaire, le racisme… Franchement, je ne vois aucune preuve à l’appui de cette thèse. Pourquoi des millionnaires saoudiens partent-ils pour Raqqa? A cause de la misère, du racisme? En réalité, ces gens-là se construisent leurs propres vérités, qu’ils souhaitent imposer à d’autres à coups de kalachnikov. A la différence des terroristes d’extrême gauche de la Fraction armée rouge, dans les années 1970, qui étaient politiquement motivés, c’est leur interprétation de la religion qui les pousse à agir. (…) Quand j’entends à Amsterdam un gosse de 6 ans crier dans la rue « Mort aux juifs ! », je me doute bien que de tels mots de haine ne lui sont pas venus spontanément à la bouche. C’est pour cela que, lors des cérémonies de citoyenneté à l’hôtel de ville, au moment de remettre aux immigrants leurs nouveaux passeports néerlandais, j’insiste pour leur dire qu’en recevant une nouvelle identité ils obtiennent les droits conférés par la Constitution, mais aussi le devoir de protéger nos libertés fondamentales intangibles. Ici, rien ne vous empêche de brandir un Coran dans la rue ; en Arabie saoudite, si vous brandissez une Bible, vous pouvez être tué. (…) en France, en Belgique, comme aux Pays-Bas, les foyers musulmans doivent s’interroger : comment est-il possible que des criminels soient capables de détourner leurs croyances et de passer à la violence en leur nom ? Et ce, alors que le plus grand nombre de ces victimes du terrorisme sont des musulmans! (…) Au moment où nous parlons, une flopée de bateaux, petits et grands, traverse la Méditerranée, pour la plupart en provenance du monde musulman, chargés d’hommes et de femmes en quête de liberté et de sécurité en Occident. Je les comprends. Il y a quarante ans, ma famille a suivi la même route pour les mêmes motifs. En général, ces réfugiés sont bien traités en Europe. Mais faut-il continuer à les accueillir alors même que certains parmi ces migrants ou, à plus long terme, leurs enfants vont nous menacer ? Est-ce la meilleure manière de remercier ceux qui les ont accueillis ? C’est une question légitime et je comprends que de nombreux Européens se la posent. La négliger serait irresponsable et il appartient aux musulmans issus de l’immigration d’y répondre. (…) La question est de savoir quelle est la place à donner à l’islam en Europe. Ce que je dis aux musulmans, c’est que plus ils embrasseront sincèrement notre Constitution et l’Etat de droit, plus leur place sera assurée. Inversement, s’ils pensent que l’islam prévaut sur la Constitution, cette place se réduira. Ahmed Aboutaleb (maire de Rotterdam)
People want to absolve Islam. It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts. Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else. Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day. (…) What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these text. There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have. The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence. They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period. Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation. (…) The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid. That really would be an act of apostasy. Bernard Haykel (Princeton)
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam. Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.(…) Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.(…) It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them. Graeme Wood
C’est la religion de l’épée, imbécile !
A l’heure où certains groupes chrétiens en sont à expurger leur traductions arabes ou turques de la Bible pour ne pas froisser leurs lecteurs musulmans …
Et où après avoir abandonné l’Irak et traité l’Etat islamique d’équipe juniors …
Puis séché Paris et Auschwitz …
Et tout récemment critiqué la Jordanie et l’Egypte pour s’être défendu contre la barbarie islamique ….
L’Administration Obama pousse le déni, avec un sommet de Washington contre « l’extrémisme violent » reprenant la terminologie de ses prédécesseurs tout en multipliant discrètement les éliminations ciblées, de toute référence à l’islam …
Pendant qu’après avoir pendant si longtemps fermé les yeux sur la montée de l’antisémitisme en France, un pouvoir aux abois tente de nous refaire aujourd’hui le coup de Carpentras …
Comment ne pas voir, avec l’islamologue de Princeton Bernard Haykel, les limites d’un tel déni …
Face à des djihadistes qui eux n’ont pas peur de prendre leurs textes sacrés à la lettre ?
What ISIS Really Wants
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State’s most influential recruiters, believes it is foretold that the caliphate will sack Istanbul before it is beaten back by an army led by the anti-Messiah, whose eventual death— when just a few thousand jihadists remain—will usher in the apocalypse. (Paul Jeffers/Fairfax Media)
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Our failure to appreciate the essential differences between ISIS and al-Qaeda has led to dangerous decisions.
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says. (Peter Murphy)
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements. (Tal Cohen/Reuters)
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After mujahideen reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was declared caliph by his followers last summer. The establishment of a caliphate awakened large sections of Koranic law that had lain dormant, and required those Muslims who recognized the caliphate to immigrate. (Associated Press)
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it appears the best of bad military options.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee, with apparent delight in each.
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
A theological alternative to the Islamic State exists—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
Graeme Wood is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His personal site is gcaw.net.
Effrayant : Attentats islamistes en Europe, l’analyse de Bat Ye’or
fév 20, 20152
Pour pallier les déficiences des analyses géopolitiques et à l’indigence du débat d’idée des grands médias, nous avons demandé à notre amie Bat Ye’or, historienne et spécialiste de l’histoire de la dhimmitude des chrétiens et des juifs dans le Moyen Orient islamique, de porter son regard sur les récents attentats qui ont déchiré la France et le Danemark.
Pour rappel, et selon l’analyse de Bat Ye’or, la dhimmitude ne peut se comprendre que dans le cadre du djihad – Jean-Patrick Grumberg
Les accords Eurabia ont-ils été rompus unilatéralement par les musulmans ?
Qu’est-ce que vous entendez par « accords Eurabia » ? Si ce sont des documents officiels ponctuels signés entre chefs d’Etat, ces accords n’existent que partiellement et sont relatifs à Israël. Pour simplifier, Eurabia représente deux stratégies connexes et inséparables conçues par l’Europe avec ses partenaires de la Ligue arabe: 1) la création de la Palestine qui remplacera Israël, et 2) le projet méditerranéen de fusion euro-arabe, projet fondateur d’une civilisation commune méditerranéenne. Les deux stratégies sont liées.
Ces accords euro-arabes concernant Israël cités dans mon livre Eurabia *, sont :
Bruxelles 6 novembre 1973 résolution conjointe de la CEE.
Copenhague 15 décembre 1973, sommet de la CEE entérinant son alignement sur les conditions énoncées par le VIe Sommet arabe tenu à Alger le 26-28 novembre 1973 soit : recul d’Israël sur les lignes de 1949, reconnaissance de la Palestine avec Jérusalem comme capitale arabe, reconnaissance d’Arafat comme seul représentant de la Palestine, arrêt du soutien militaire et économique de l’Europe à Israël.
New York, Assemblée générale de l’ONU 26 septembre 1977, déclaration d’Henri Simonet, ministre belge des Affaires étrangères et président du Conseil de la CEE énonçant la position des Neufs conforme à celle de la Ligue Arabe.
Venise, 13 juin 1980, Déclaration du Conseil européen sur le Moyen-Orient qui entérine toutes les exigences arabes et impliquent l’Europe dans un processus pro-palestinien et anti-israélien.
Des sanctions contre Israël pour l’obliger à remplir les promesses faîtes par les Européens aux peuples arabes
Ces accords sont les premiers et postulent la position de l’Europe, d’autres suivirent. Or une lettre du 10/12 2010 adressée par d’anciens leaders, ambassadeurs et fonctionnaires de l’UE exhorte leurs remplaçants actuels à contraindre Israël par tous les moyens pour qu’il exécute les obligations prises par les Européens envers les Arabes relatives au territoire israélien, à sa population et à sa capitale. Ceci indique que l’UE, non seulement a adopté une position anti-israélienne dans un conflit qui ne la concernait pas, mais s’est engagée directement auprès de ses partenaires arabes à obliger Israël à s’exécuter. (usmep.us/2010-12-10-EFLG-letter-to-EU.pdf). Ces réclamations des pays arabes envers l’Europe ressortent de nombreux documents que j’ai examinés.
La stratégie du projet méditerranéen relève d’une autre structure. Il n’y a pas « d’accords» stricto sensu.
Elle consiste en un ensemble de lobbies et de réseaux officieux regroupant des parlementaires représentant tous les partis européens de la gauche à la droite, et leurs collègues arabes délégués par les parlements arabes. Ces parlementaires arabes et européens travaillaient ensemble dans divers comités spécifiques sous la double présidence de la Commission européenne et de la Ligue arabe. Michel Jobert, ministre français des Affaires étrangères nomma cette structure en 1974 le Dialogue euro-arabe. Saleh A. al-Mani, professeur saoudien à l’université King Saoud, la définit comme « une diplomatie associative » titre de son livre édifiant : The Euro-Arab Dialogue: A Study in Associative Diplomacy * (1983).
Ces réseaux établirent les fondations de la civilisation euro-arabe basée sur l’immigration, le multiculturalisme et l’antisionisme
Dès 1974 ces réseaux établirent au niveau européen et dans tous les secteurs d’activités les fondations idéologiques, politiques, culturelles, économiques, médiatiques, universitaires de la civilisation euro-arabe méditerranéenne basée sur l’immigration, le multiculturalisme et l’antisionisme. Une profusion de documents attestent l’existence et les activités de ces réseaux efficaces jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Le Dialogue euro-arabe, le Processus de Barcelone (1995), la Fondation Anna Lindh (2003), le Parlement euro-méditerranéen, l’Union méditerranéenne, Medea et bien d’autres instruments financiers, culturels et stratégiques démontrent l’existence de cette politique. Eurabia est tout cet ensemble qui repose sur un nombre très variés de documents.
Cette politique fut conçue par la France dans les années 60. Après plusieurs années d’efforts infructueux pour y associer les pays de la Communauté Européenne rebutés par ce projet antisémite sorti des cartons du nazisme, la France obtint l’adhésion à son projet en 1973. Sous les coups de boutoir du terrorisme international palestinien et du terrorisme économique de la Ligue arabe qui menaçait de boycott tout pays ami d’Israël, les neuf pays de la Communauté européenne adhérèrent à la politique française.
Pour répondre à votre question, si « les musulmans ont rompu les accords », mot confus dans ce contexte, je ne le crois pas. Un nouveau facteur est apparu : l’Etat islamique qui s’inscrit dans la pérennité théologique et juridique du jihad et de la guerre contre les mécréants.
Compte tenu qu’il n’y a jamais eu un aggiornamento théologique de l’islam et que les pays musulmans ont reconnu dans la charte de l’OCI (2008) s’enraciner dans les principes de l’islam, on doit pour comprendre la situation de l’Europe, l’interpréter selon le cadre juridique et idéologique dans lequel la situe le jihad qui n’a jamais été abrogé. On pourrait dire qu’Eurabia instaurait un état de trêve conditionnelle qui n’excluait pas le terrorisme pour obliger l’Europe à exécuter à la fois ses obligations contre Israël, et sur le plan intérieur la promotion de l’immigration musulmane, clé de voûte du projet méditerranéen.
Maintenant, l’Europe et l’Amérique ont donné un coup de pied dans la fourmilière, prodigué des armes aux islamistes qu’elles ont poussé à la rébellion contre les anciens dictateurs. L’Ummah a éclaté en tribus et clans hostiles les uns aux autres et manipulés par les financiers de la guerre.
La présence en Europe de millions d’immigrants qui refusent de s’intégrer et affiliés à leur pays d’origine importera en Europe les conflits et les divisions de ces pays
Dans certaines régions, il n’y a plus d’Etats, les frontières héritées de la colonisation après la Ier Guerre mondiale n’existent plus. L’Etat islamique qui règnent sur ces régions agit conformément aux règles du jihad, il se considère en guerre contre les Etats occidentaux qui combattent les mouvements islamistes en Afrique et au Levant. Il a donc ordonné à ses cellules dormantes en Europe de tuer ses citoyens et de les terroriser. Cela n’a rien à voir avec une soi-disant discrimination sociale de racistes blancs. Il est clair que la présence en Europe de millions d’immigrants qui refusent de s’intégrer et affiliés à leur pays d’origine importera en Europe les conflits et les divisions de ces pays.
Ont-ils perdu le contrôle de leurs éléments les plus radicaux qui déclenchent des attentats « spontanés » ?
Ces éléments obéissent à l’Etat islamique.
Mais on ne peut s’empêcher de penser que peut-être d’autres pressions utilisent le terrorisme pour obtenir de l’Europe les atouts qui ont toujours été exigés par la terreur depuis les années 1960 :
la reconnaissance de la Palestine obtenue de plusieurs états européens sous une très forte menace terroriste ;
l’aggravation des sanctions en Europe contre l’islamophobie et un renforcement de la censure culturelle contre la liberté d’opinion ;
une plus grande représentativité musulmane à des postes politiques importants et dans les médias. Cet argument d’ailleurs a été repris par la presse et des politiciens pour exonérer les coupables, culpabiliser la société européenne et promouvoir une plus forte influence islamique à tous les niveaux sociaux. Ce sont des demandes constantes formulées par l’Organisation de la Coopération Islamique.
Est-ce l’effet de la division entre l’Etat islamiste et les pays du « statu quo » qui rejailli sur des musulmans incontrôlés nés en Europe, et dans ce cas l’avenir proche promet d’être cauchemardesque ?
Les musulmans d’Europe ne sont pas incontrôlés. Les terroristes sont organisés et agissent rationnellement dans la logique du djihad et du dar al-Harb. Ce sont les Européens et leurs leaders qui sont fautifs d’ignorer leurs principes et leurs croyances.
La division est devenue un chaos de guerres et de barbarie qui n’épargnent personne. Mais les musulmans d’Europe ne sont pas incontrôlés. Les terroristes sont organisés et agissent rationnellement dans la logique du jihad et du dar al-Harb. Ce sont les Européens et leurs leaders qui sont fautifs d’ignorer leurs principes et leurs croyances. Ces leaders ont fait preuve de leur incroyable incompétence pour n’avoir pas prévu ce désastre en s’étant installés dans le déni depuis quarante ans alors qu’ils ont l’obligation d’assurer la sécurité de leurs concitoyens.
S’agit-il d’un prélude pour exiger de l’Europe plus de soumission, plus d’acceptation de l’Islam, et un rejet plus offensif d’Israël ?
Oui c’est exactement cela, et les concessions ont déjà commencé.
En fait ils veulent empêcher les juifs d’aller en Israël pour ne pas irriter leurs alliés arabes
Je ne crois pas du tout aux larmes de crocodile et aux mines contrites des leaders européens sur l’antisémitisme alors qu’ils financent par milliards – avec l’argent de leurs contribuables – les ONG de la haine contre Israël et contre le peuple juif qu’ils tentent de détruire de l’intérieur en corrompant des Israéliens et des juifs. Ils s’indignent de l’émigration de leurs concitoyens juifs quand ils ont tout fait pour créer la culture antisémite/antisioniste actuelle. En fait ils veulent les empêcher d’aller en Israël pour ne pas irriter leurs alliés arabes.
Comment analysez-vous le futur ?
Catastrophique pour tout le monde. L’UE ne changera pas de politique, elle s’est trop engagée pour reculer. Elle a mené trois politiques parallèles et connexes :
l’affaiblissement d’Israël pour lui substituer la Palestine qu’elle a soutenue, financée et formée dans ce but
la destruction des nations européennes pour construire l’UE
la construction de la civilisation euro-méditerranéenne, c’est-à-dire euro-arabe par l’immigration, la mixité des populations, la suppression du judéo-christianisme afin de rendre les populations européennes islamo-compatibles.
Eventuellement l’UE pourrait mener des actions militaires contre Israël si la campagne BDS qu’elle préconise et soutient en sous-main s’avérait insuffisante.
Et avec cela, comme si ce n’était pas assez, Obama pousse à la confrontation avec la Russie, rêvant de recréer la guerre en Europe et le chaos qu’il a semé dans les pays musulmans.
Fox attacks Obama for anti-terror rhetoric that Bush admin recommended
Julie Millican & Eric Shroeck
June 3, 2010
Fox & Friends criticized the Obama administration’s « new national security strategy » because it will « no longer make references to radical Islamic extremism or jihad. » However, this policy is not new; indeed, Bush administration officials discouraged the use of such terms, which they said « unintentionally legitimize » violent extremists.
Fox & Friends attack reported ban on « references to radical Islamic extremism or jihad » as « insulting » and « mindboggling »
From the June 3 broadcast of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): As part of the new national security strategy, the Obama administration says they will no longer make references to radical Islamic extremism or jihad. But our next guest says that is like fighting blindfolded.
Walid Phares, expand on that. You’re a Fox News terrorism analyst and senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Aren’t we not insulting the nonradical Islamists by not bringing that up? Is this making them feel better?
PHARES: Absolutely. This is the most stunning statement in a war with the terrorists that lasted nine years so far. At the ninth year, we are not able to define what is the ideology of the enemy? The administration said, yes, we’re fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But what is the ideology of Al Qaeda and the Taliban? How can we have plans — how can we de-radicalize people? If we capture people, how can we de-radicalize them if we don’t even understand what’s their ideology. It is just mindboggling.
Bush administration also discouraged use of such terms
Karen Hughes — Bush’s « top diplomat to the Muslim world » — advised against using « the language of religion. » An April 7 Associated Press article reported that the Obama administration « will remove religious terms such as ‘Islamic extremism’ from the central document outlining the U.S. national security strategy. » The AP further noted that during the Bush administration, Karen Hughes, President Bush’s « top diplomat to the Muslim world, » urged against the use of phrases such as « Islamic extremists » and « radical jihadists. » The AP reported that « Hughes and Juan Zarate, Bush’s former deputy national security adviser, said Obama’s efforts build on groundwork from Bush’s second term, when some of the rhetoric softened. » From the AP article:
But the Bush administration struggled with its rhetoric. Muslims criticized him for describing the war against terror as a « crusade » and labeling the invasion of Afghanistan « Operation Infinite Justice » — words that were seen as religious. He regularly identified America’s enemy as « Islamic extremists » and « radical jihadists. »
Karen Hughes, a Bush confidant who served as his top diplomat to the Muslim world in his second term, urged the White House to stop.
« I did recommend that, in my judgment, it’s unfortunate because of the way it’s heard. We ought to avoid the language of religion, » Hughes said. « Whenever they hear ‘Islamic extremism, Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism,’ they perceive it as a sort of an attack on their faith. That’s the world view Osama bin Laden wants them to have. »
Hughes and Juan Zarate, Bush’s former deputy national security adviser, said Obama’s efforts build on groundwork from Bush’s second term, when some of the rhetoric softened.
Bush administration document: « Never use the term ‘jihadist.’ » A May 2008 UPI article stated: « U.S. officials are being advised in internal government documents to avoid referring publicly to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups as Islamic or Muslim, and not to use terms like jihad or mujahedin, which ‘unintentionally legitimize’ terrorism. » The document discourages the use of « ill-defined and offensive terminology, » such as » ‘Islamo-fascism,’ which are considered offensive by many Muslims. » The document from the National Counterterrorism Center goes on to state: « [N]ever use the terms ‘jihadist’ or ‘mujahideen’ in conversation to describe the terrorists. A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means ‘striving in the path of God’ and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions. »
Bush administration Homeland Security document cautions against « using terms such as, ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior.’ » A January 2008 Homeland Security document summarized recommendations made by Muslim leaders and scholars about proper and strategic terminology to use while discussing terrorism and stated that « the experts counseled caution in using terms such as ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior’ » in order to « avoid unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers, or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims »:
Expert Recommendation 2 — Do not give the terrorists the legitimacy that they seek.
What terrorists fear most is irrelevance; what they need most is for large numbers of people to rally to their cause. There was a consensus that the USG should avoid unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers, or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims. Therefore, the experts counseled caution in using terms such as, « jihadist, » « Islamic terrorist, » « Islamist, » and « holy warrior » as grandiose descriptions.
Using the word « Islamic » in a phrase will sometimes be necessary in order to distinguish terrorists who claim the banner of Islam from other extremist groups who do not invoke religion, or who invoke other faiths. Nevertheless, CRCL [Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties] understands the experts’ caution in this regard to be rooted in the concern that we should not concede the terrorists’ claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam. Therefore, when using the word, it may be strategic to emphasize that many so-called « Islamic » terrorist groups twist and exploit the tenets of Islam to justify violence and to serve their own selfish political aims.
The same is true of the moniker « Islamist » (or the related « Islamism »), which many have used to refer to individuals who view Islam as a political system in addition to a religion. The experts we consulted did not criticize this usage based on accuracy; indeed, they acknowledged that academics and commentators, including some in the Arab and Muslim Worlds, regularly use « Islamist » to describe people and movements. Nevertheless, they caution that it may not be strategic for USG of£icials to use the term because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam. In the experts’ estimation, this may still be true, albeit to a lesser extent, even if government officials add qualifiers, e.g. « violent Islamists » or « radical Islamism. »
Regarding jilzad, even if it is accurate to reference the term (putting aside polemics on its true nature), it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have, and damages relations with Muslims around the globe.
Some say that this is a war against « Salafis. » However, Salafism is a belief system that many people follow. This includes al-Qaeda leadership, as well as many individuals who are not violent at all. Again, if we assign this term to al-Qaeda, we will be handing them legitimacy that they do not have, but are desperately seeking.
The consensus is that we must carefully avoid giving bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders the legitimacy they crave, but do not possess, by characterizing them as religious figures, or in terms that may make them seem to be noble in the eyes of some.
Right-wing media previously attacked Brennan over statements about jihad
As Media Matters has noted, right-wing media have claimed Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s statement that jihad is a « legitimate tenet of Islam » is « absurd » and « frightening » and indicates Brennan is « deranged. » But Bush similarly stated that extremists « distort the idea of jihad » to support their terrorist acts.
Brennan: U.S. doesn’t « describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one’s community. » In a May 26 speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brennan said that the U.S. doesn’t « describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one’s community » and that « [i]t would play into the false perception that they are religious leaders defending a holy cause when in fact, they are nothing more than murderers, including the murder of thousands upon thousands of Muslims. » Brennan also said that « [o]ur enemy is al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates. For it was al-Qaida who attacked us so viciously on 9/11 and whose desire to attack the United States, our allies and our partners remains undiminished. »
Bush repeatedly said « extremists distort the idea of jihad. » In a November 11, 2005, speech, Bush said that « [t]hese extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews — and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision. » In an October 17, 2005, speech, Bush said that « [t]hese extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics. »
‘Jihadist’ booted from U.S. government lexicon
Bush administration targets language in war on terrorism
WASHINGTON — Don’t call them jihadists any more.
And don’t call al-Qaida a movement.
The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.
Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as « jihadists » or « mujahedeen, » according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like « Islamo-fascism » is out, too.
The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.
For example, while Americans may understand « jihad » to mean « holy war, » it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, « mujahedeen, » which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context.
U.S. officials may be « unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims, » says a Homeland Security report. It’s entitled « Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims. »
« Regarding ‘jihad,’ even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world, » the report says.
‘Official use only’
Language is critical in the war on terrorism, says another document, an internal « official use only » memorandum circulating through Washington entitled « Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication. »
The memo, originally prepared in March by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center, was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies, officials said.
« It’s not what you say but what they hear, » the memo says in bold italic lettering, listing 14 points about how to better present the war on terrorism.
« Don’t take the bait, » it says, urging officials not to react when Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida affiliates speak. « We should offer only minimal, if any, response to their messages. When we respond loudly, we raise their prestige in the Muslim world. »
« Don’t compromise our credibility » by using words and phrases that may ascribe benign motives to terrorists.
Some other specifics:
« Never use the terms ‘jihadist’ or ‘mujahedeen’ in conversation to describe the terrorists. … Calling our enemies ‘jihadis’ and their movement a global ‘jihad’ unintentionally legitimizes their actions. »
« Use the terms ‘violent extremist’ or ‘terrorist.’ Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy. »
On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: « We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don’t insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as ‘Islamo-fascism,’ which are considered offensive by many Muslims. »
The memo says the advice is not binding and does not apply to official policy papers but should be used as a guide for conversations with Muslims and media.
Caution against ‘grandiose descriptions’
At least at the top level, it appears to have made an impact. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who once frequently referred to « jihad » in her public remarks, does not appear to have used the word, except when talking about the name of a specific terrorist group, since last September.
The memo mirrors advice distributed to British and European Union diplomats last year to better explain the war on terrorism to Muslim communities there.
It also draws heavily on the Homeland Security report that examined the way American Muslims reacted to different phrases used by U.S. officials to describe terrorists and recommended ways to improve the message.
Because of religious connotations, that report, released in January and obtained by AP this week, counseled « caution in using terms such as, ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior’ as grandiose descriptions. »
« We should not concede the terrorists’ claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam, » the report said, adding that bin Laden and his adherents fear « irrelevance » more than anything else.
« We must carefully avoid giving bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders the legitimacy they crave, but do not possess, by characterizing them as religious figures, or in terms that may make them seem to be noble in the eyes of some, » it said.
President Obama: Our fight against violent extremism
February 17, 2015
The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We’ve decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.
At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.
In Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group we call ISIL has slaughtered innocent civilians and murdered hostages, including Americans, and has spread its barbarism to Libya with the murder of Egyptian Christians. In recent months, we’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen.
Elsewhere, the Pakistan Taliban massacred more than 100 schoolchildren and their teachers. From Somalia, al-Shabaab has launched attacks across East Africa. In Nigeria and neighboring countries, Boko Haram kills and kidnaps men, women and children.
In the face of this challenge, we must stand united internationally and here at home. We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians. We also have to confront the violent extremists — the propagandists, recruiters and enablers — who may not directly engage in terrorist acts themselves, but who radicalize, recruit and incite others to do so.
lRelated Islamic State’s badass path to paradise
This week, we’ll take an important step forward as governments, civil society groups and community leaders from more than 60 nations gather in Washington for a global summit on countering violent extremism. Our focus will be on empowering local communities.
Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL promote a twisted interpretation of religion that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims. The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam. We can echo the testimonies of former extremists who know how terrorists betray Islam. We can help Muslim entrepreneurs and youths work with the private sector to develop social media tools to counter extremist narratives on the Internet.
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. –
We know from experience that the best way to protect people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders. At this week’s summit, community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.
More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today’s youth something better.
Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.
Finally — with al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.
That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We’ve seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community center in Kansas last year.
We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.
Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week’s summit, we’ll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity.
Barack Obama is the president of the United States.
Sommet à Washington: Obama refuse la stigmatisation des musulmans
Au sommet contre le terrorisme à Washington, la journée du mercredi 18 février a été consacrée aux initiatives menées par les communautés, les opérateurs privés et les organisations gouvernementales. L’administration américaine, hôte de la manifestation, a insisté sur l’importance de ne pas stigmatiser les musulmans, dont de nombreux représentants étaient invités à la Maison Blanche. Le président Obama, qui a clos cette journée de travail, a demandé à chacun de prendre ses responsabilités.
Avec notre correspondante et notre envoyé spécial à Washington, Anne-Marie Capomaccio et Guillaume Deltheil
« Ce n’est pas en ignorant nos carences, exploitées par les terroristes, que nous réglerons le problème », a déclaré Barack Obama venu clore cette journée de travail en refusant le « politiquement correct ». Les groupes al-Qaïda et Etat islamique s’engouffrent dans les faiblesses de nos sociétés pour recruter, a expliqué le président américain, qui évoque le chômage des jeunes, la perte de l’identité, ou encore l’impression d’être un citoyen de seconde zone.
Nos gouvernements doivent faire face, a dit Barack Obama, et reconnaître le problème. Les leaders religieux doivent davantage prendre la parole et s’exprimer haut et fort pour refuser aux terroristes le droit de se dire musulmans. « Al-Qaïda et le groupe Etat islamique recherchent désespérément une légitimité. Ils tentent de se dépeindre comme des leaders religieux et ils diffusent l’idée que l’Occident est en guerre contre l’islam, a déclaré Barack Obama. Nous ne devons jamais accepter les principes qu’ils mettent en avant, et nous devons leur refuser la légitimité qu’ils recherchent. Ce ne sont pas des leaders religieux, ce sont des terroristes ! »
Le président des Etats-Unis n’est pas venu annoncer de nouvelles mesures pour lutter contre le terrorisme, mais plutôt appeler chacun à prendre ses responsabilités. Un travail d’introspection dans chaque société est, selon lui, nécessaire. Et c’est à certains pays qui participent au sommet que le président des Etats-Unis s’est adressé à ce moment là. La démocratie, l’égalité entre hommes et femmes, et la lutte contre la corruption sont les meilleurs remèdes contre le terrorisme.
Les collectivités territoriales à la pointe de la déradicalisation
La journée de ce mercredi 18 février était par ailleurs consacrée à l’action des collectivités locales et de la sociétés civile. Un échange sur les « bonnes pratiques », selon les mots du ministre américain de la Sécurité nationale, Jeh Johnson, à savoir les programmes de déradicalisation comme ceux mis en place dans trois villes des Etats-Unis : Boston, Los Angeles et Minneapolis.
À Minneapolis, le phénomène des combattants étrangers n’est pas apparu avec le conflit syrien. La ville a vu plusieurs dizaines de ses jeunes rejoindre les shebabs dans la corne de l’Afrique. Des jeunes issus de l’immigration somalienne. Une communauté dont la structure sociale a été bouleversée. « Comme dans tant d’autres, ce sont les anciens qui ont l’autorité dans les familles de la communauté somalienne, souligne le sénateur démocrate du Minnesota, Al Franken. Mais quand vous changez de pays et que les enfants sont ceux qui connaissent la langue, la culture, cela s’inverse. »
Pour répondre au défi de la radicalisation, ces programmes pilotes misent sur un rappel à la loi combiné à des programmes sociaux. Mais il y a aussi une importante dimension sociétale, souligne la chercheuse Saïda Abdi, membre du comité pilote du programme de Boston. « Nous ne devons pas seulement travailler sur les formations et les programmes sociaux qui permettent aux jeunes de se sentir membres de la communauté, mais nous devons aussi nous battre contre les stratégies qui aliènent, marginalisent les jeunes encore plus. »
Un message entendu à la Maison Blanche. Barack Obama reconnaît que les jeunes musulmans souffrent de discrimination. Pour le président américain, la réponse est de « renforcer le dialogue et la confiance ». Une bataille idéologique qui n’empêchera pas, sur le terrain, les raids aériens de la coalition de continuer de plus belle.
Anne Hidalgo: « Je souhaite faire travailler l’ensemble des autorités religieuses, mais aussi des mouvements laïcs »
Promouvoir une approche globale au défi que représente la radicalisation : la réponse est donc sécuritaire mais aussi sociale et culturelle. Une approche que salue la maire de Paris, Anne Hidalgo, présente à Washington. Elle répond, dit-elle, à la politique mise en place dans la capitale française depuis plusieurs années.
« Nous investissons plus dans les quartiers populaires. C’est là que nous avons créé ces dernières années les écoles, les lieux culturels, etc. Nous avons beaucoup investi et nous allons continuer à le faire. J’ai un investissement sur ma mandature de 10 milliards d’euros, qui vont être essentiellement concentrés vers ces quartiers. Au-delà de ça, j’ai proposé d’ouvrir les écoles le samedi matin à Paris, parce qu’il faut que nous ayons des lieux. Pour que l’on puisse accompagner de façon bienveillante les enfants dans la réussite scolaire, en plus de ce qui existe déjà. Ouvrir aussi ces lieux publics pour qu’il puisse y avoir des débats. Qu’on puisse s’enrichir mutuellement. J’ai proposé la mise en place d’une conférence de partage le 12 mars prochain. Je souhaite faire travailler l’ensemble des autorités religieuses, mais aussi des mouvements laïcs, pour qu’on trouve ensemble des solutions très concrètes. »
Terrorisme : le sommet qui ne sert à rien
Français et Américains devaient organiser un sommet sur le terrorisme. C’est devenu un colloque sans intérêt qui ne débouche sur aucune décision.
À la conférence sur l’extrémisme violent qui s’est tenue aux États-Unis, la maire de Paris Anne Hidalgo a tenu un discours creux, estime Sophie Coignard.
Dans la foulée des attentats terroristes de Paris, les gouvernements français et américain s’accordent sur la nécessité d’un sommet pour lutter contre le terrorisme. Il doit se tenir à Washington. Cet événement doit réunir, entre autres, Barack Obama et François Hollande, dont la venue est annoncée sans l’être. Puis, au fil des jours, la baudruche se dégonfle. Il ne s’agit plus d’un sommet, mais d’un colloque sur l' »extrémisme violent ». Voilà pour la phraséologie officielle, pour le moins étrange : il y aurait donc un extrémisme tranquille… Très vite, en vérité, cette initiative prise sous le coup de l’émotion ennuie tout le monde. Les diplomates les plus aguerris le disent presque ouvertement : cette manifestation est inutile, c’est une perte de temps et d’énergie. Elle se tient néanmoins sur deux journées : le mercredi 18 à la Maison-Blanche ; le jeudi 19 au Département d’État, l’équivalent américain du ministère des Affaires étrangères.
Quels responsables politiques pour faire ce déplacement ? Plus question de François Hollande, vu la minceur du programme et la qualité des intervenants. Manuel Valls, alors ? Non, deux autres personnalités sont retenues : Anne Hidalgo pour la partie Maison-Blanche, qui réunit des maires de grandes villes le mercredi ; Bernard Cazeneuve, le ministre de l’Intérieur, pour la seconde partie, plus sérieuse, au Département d’État le jeudi. Barack Obama apparaît durant ces deux journées pour pratiquer l’art dans lequel il excelle : la communication
Hidalgo en version originale non sous-titrée
Il a ainsi clôturé la rencontre des maires, mercredi soir, en « vendant » la politique de sécurité américaine et en accordant un moment à plusieurs participants, parmi lesquels Anne Hidalgo. Le discours que la maire de Paris a prononcé dans la matinée – en anglais dans le texte – a dû laisser quelques-uns de ses auditeurs particulièrement songeurs. Exemple : le « pacte contre l’exclusion », dont elle a annoncé la signature imminente, est mis en oeuvre « dans le but de réduire de façon drastique le nombre de personnes sans abri à l’horizon 2020 ». Et d’ajouter : « Je voudrais vous rappeler que les frères Kouachi, qui ont perpétré les attaques contre Charlie Hebdo, ont vécu dans la rue pendant un moment… »
Des phrases qui suscitent, au mieux, la perplexité : ne pas avoir de logement conduit donc à se radicaliser, à s’armer et à commettre des attentats ? On espère ne pas voir poindre, derrière ces propos, la fameuse excuse sociale longtemps chère à une partie de la gauche. D’autant que le discours se poursuit ainsi : « Depuis plus de dix ans, nous investissons plus dans les quartiers populaires que dans quoi que ce soit d’autre, et nous concentrons nos efforts sur l’école, la santé, le logement… » Quel constat d’échec ! Et c’est avec sa trouvaille du jour, le « pacte contre l’exclusion », que la maire de Paris compte venir à bout du terrorisme ? Pardon, de l' »extrémisme violent » ?
Voir de plus:
Ahmed Aboutaleb: « L’islam doit se remettre en question »
« Foutez le camp! » La vive réaction d’Ahmed Aboutaleb, maire de Rotterdam, à l’encontre des djihadistes, le jour de l’attentat perpétré contre l’hebdomadaire Charlie Hebdo, lui a valu immédiatement la notoriété au-delà des frontières de sa ville. Les demandes d’interviews ont afflué du monde entier. Mais c’est à un magazine français que le maire de Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, a voulu réserver ses explications.
Premier maire musulman d’une métropole européenne, cet élu social-démocrate est à la tête de la deuxième ville des Pays-Bas depuis 2009. Ses succès contre la délinquance et sa popularité personnelle ont permis sa réélection, alors même que la droite s’est renforcée au conseil municipal. Alarmé de longue date par le péril djihadiste, ce Marocain d’origine, pratiquant, appelle les musulmans à se mobiliser contre la violence, à Paris comme à Copenhague.
Quelques heures après l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo, vous avez invité les candidats au djihad « qui n’aiment pas la liberté » à « foutre le camp ». Ces propos directs ont eu un large écho au-delà des Pays-Bas. Qu’avez-vous voulu dire?
J’étais en colère, et ce n’était pas du théâtre, croyez-moi! Ces mots, je les ai prononcés pour être sûr d’être compris, comme maire de Rotterdam mais aussi comme un musulman en colère. A Rotterdam, une cité où cohabitent 174 nationalités, nous devrions, chaque jour, célébrer la liberté. La liberté, c’est bien sûr le droit de provoquer par des caricatures, mais c’est aussi la protection accordée à l’individu contre l’intervention de l’Etat, c’est aussi la liberté de croire et de fonder des institutions religieuses.
Je peux comprendre que certains de mes coreligionnaires aient pu se sentir offensés par Charlie Hebdo mais, dans ce cas, il existe des protocoles tels que le recours aux tribunaux. J’ai voulu dire que si l’on revendique le vivre ensemble, il faut accepter le compromis; ceux qui s’y refusent n’ont qu’à faire leur examen de conscience et avoir l’honnêteté de reconnaître qu’il n’y a pas de place pour eux ici. Le drame de Paris a été douloureusement ressenti par de nombreux musulmans, car il faut désormais renouer le dialogue avec les autres communautés et les autres religions. L’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo force l’islam à se remettre en question.
Oui. Il est très important que les musulmans répondent aux questions qui leur sont adressées : pourquoi ces criminels ont-ils pu interpréter le Coran et l’islam dans un sens qui les a conduits à justifier leurs agissements? Récemment, j’ai entendu ici un imam expliquer que les musulmans avaient le droit de répondre à l’injustice par leur coeur, leur tête ou leurs mains. Un de ses fidèles a rétorqué que c’était ce que les criminels avaient fait à Paris, en prenant des kalachnikovs au nom des injustices qu’ils dénonçaient. On est là au coeur du débat. Ces criminels ont construit leur démonstration à partir de l’islam. Dire que l’islam n’a rien à voir avec leurs actions, c’est vraiment absurde.
Les autorités religieuses musulmanes ont-elles été à la hauteur des attentats commis à Paris?
Non, et c’est bien le problème. La révolution au sein de l’islam ne commencera pas dans cet hôtel de ville, mais on peut d’ici lancer l’étincelle qui allumera la mèche. Les musulmans européens doivent faire pression sur leurs leaders religieux pour qu’ils se saisissent de ce débat. Si, aujourd’hui, je suis à la recherche sur Google d’un cheikh, d’un guide spirituel, je tomberai seulement sur des vidéos de radicaux. Pourquoi les leaders religieux modérés sont-ils absents d’Internet ? Pourquoi n’y apparaissent-ils pas pour donner leur propre version du Coran?
Cette mobilisation de l’islam modéré doit-elle se faire d’abord en Europe?
Nous avons la chance de bénéficier, en Occident, d’une liberté d’expression qui nous autorise à poser des questions dans l’espace public sans encourir de châtiment. N’ayons pas peur d’utiliser cette liberté.
Comment réagissent les imams que vous rencontrez quand vous les pressez de la sorte?
Chacun a tendance à comprendre ce qui l’arrange. J’entends trop souvent : « Je condamne ce qui s’est passé à Paris, mais… ». Il n’y a pas de « mais » possible. Une condamnation collective et visible par les représentants de l’islam servirait à la stabilité sociale et à une meilleure compréhension des musulmans néerlandais. Cela agirait comme un remède social. Malheureusement, j’ai échoué à organiser un tel mouvement de condamnation, alors qu’il s’est manifesté en Allemagne grâce à la communauté turque, dotée d’une plus forte conscience politique que celles des Marocains et des Algériens des Pays-Bas et de France. Le taux d’illettrisme des Marocains vivant aux Pays-Bas est, il est vrai, élevé, et beaucoup dans cette communauté n’ont accès à l’islam qu’en écoutant les imams, pas en lisant le Livre saint.
« Une condamnation collective et visible [des attentats] par les représentants de l’islam servirait à la stabilité sociale. »
Dressez-vous un parallèle entre l’attentat de Paris, en janvier dernier, les fusillades de Copenhague du 14 février et le meurtre du cinéaste Théo Van Gogh, en 2004, à Amsterdam?
Oui, bien sûr. Van Gogh était un simple particulier avec une grande gueule. Il ne menaçait personne. Lorsqu’il a été assassiné par Mohammed Bouyeri, je m’étais adressé à ceux qui se réjouissaient de ce crime : « Partez !, leur avais-je dit. Vous serez plus heureux en Afghanistan ou au Soudan! Après tout, il y a des avions qui décollent d’Amsterdam toutes les cinq minutes… » Je n’ai pas changé de position.
Mais comment faire face à ceux qui veulent porter leur combat ici?
Il faut distinguer plusieurs cercles. Ceux qui sont à la marge peuvent être ramenés dans le giron de la cité par un travail d’éducation, d’intégration et de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’égalité des chances. A ceux qui veulent vivre à Raqqa [en Syrie], siège du groupe Etat islamique, je dis : si telle est votre volonté, soyez conséquent et rendez-moi votre passeport. Car le passeport néerlandais, c’est plus qu’un document de voyage : c’est une partie de votre identité et un engagement de défendre la société ouverte fondée sur le compromis qui est celle des Pays- Bas.
Si vous ne vous reconnaissez pas dans ces valeurs, partez et allez demander à M.Baghdadi [chef de l’organisation Etat islamique] de nouveaux papiers d’identité ! Ce disant, j’assume mon désaccord avec la politique actuelle du gouvernement, qui confisque les passeports des candidats au djihad afin de les empêcher de partir.
Et que faire des mineurs tentés par la violence?
Ceux-là ne sont pas conscients de ce qu’ils font et nous devons les ramener dans le droit chemin, en leur prenant leur passeport et en leur fournissant toute l’aide psychologique nécessaire. Il faut les protéger. Et si nous considérons qu’ils sont en danger, il est possible de les soustraire à leurs parents. Le problème est de déterminer à partir de quel moment, lorsqu’on s’oppose à la société, on se met en danger.
Et pour ceux qui passent à l’action violente?
Arrêtons de les appeler « radicaux ». Etre radical, c’est un droit dans une société démocratique. Mais ceux qui recourent aux armes, comme en France, sont des criminels qui relèvent de la police et des services de sécurité. Il faut les mettre hors d’état de nuire.
Comment devient-on un extrémiste?
J’en ai débattu avec le conseil municipal. Certains élus mettent en avant les conditions sociales défavorables, les discriminations, l’échec scolaire, le racisme… Franchement, je ne vois aucune preuve à l’appui de cette thèse. Pourquoi des millionnaires saoudiens partent-ils pour Raqqa? Acause de la misère, du racisme? En réalité, ces gens-là se construisent leurs propres vérités, qu’ils souhaitent imposer à d’autres à coups de kalachnikov. A la différence des terroristes d’extrême gauche de la Fraction armée rouge, dans les années 1970, qui étaient politiquement motivés, c’est leur interprétation de la religion qui les pousse à agir.
A quel niveau est-on le plus efficace pour combattre la tentation djihadiste, celui de l’Etat ou celui de la ville?
Au niveau local, assurément. L’Etat définit les règles et est responsable des forces de sécurité. Mais ce sont les élus locaux qui sont directement en butte aux extrémistes. Je sens chaque jour sur ma nuque le souffle de ces gars. C’est pour cela que j’ai organisé, dans les quartiers de Rotterdam, huit rencontres avec le public consacrées aux attentats de Paris, afin que les opinions divergentes puissent se confronter. Comprenez- moi bien : c’est aux familles, aux imams, aux enseignants, aux travailleurs sociaux et aux élus de sonner l’alarme lorsque point la menace de la violence.
Quand j’entends à Amsterdam un gosse de 6 ans crier dans la rue « Mort aux juifs ! », je me doute bien que de tels mots de haine ne lui sont pas venus spontanément à la bouche. C’est pour cela que, lors des cérémonies de citoyenneté à l’hôtel de ville, au moment de remettre aux immigrants leurs nouveaux passeports néerlandais, j’insiste pour leur dire qu’en recevant une nouvelle identité ils obtiennent les droits conférés par la Constitution, mais aussi le devoir de protéger nos libertés fondamentales intangibles. Ici, rien ne vous empêche de brandir un Coran dans la rue ; en Arabie saoudite, si vous brandissez une Bible, vous pouvez être tué.
Estimez-vous que la France et les Pays-Bas sont dans une situation comparable?
D’un point de vue social, les musulmans de France sont mieux outillés que ceux des Pays-Bas. Vous avez de nombreux intellectuels musulmans, nous n’en avons pas autant, car notre immigration est plus récente. Mais en France, en Belgique, comme aux Pays-Bas, les foyers musulmans doivent s’interroger : comment est-il possible que des criminels soient capables de détourner leurs croyances et de passer à la violence en leur nom ? Et ce, alors que le plus grand nombre de ces victimes du terrorisme sont des musulmans! Je voudrais ajouter autre chose.
Au moment où nous parlons, une flopée de bateaux, petits et grands, traverse la Méditerranée, pour la plupart en provenance du monde musulman, chargés d’hommes et de femmes en quête de liberté et de sécurité en Occident. Je les comprends. Il y a quarante ans, ma famille a suivi la même route pour les mêmes motifs. En général, ces réfugiés sont bien traités en Europe. Mais faut-il continuer à les accueillir alors même que certains parmi ces migrants ou, à plus long terme, leurs enfants vont nous menacer ? Est-ce la meilleure manière de remercier ceux qui les ont accueillis ? C’est une question légitime et je comprends que de nombreux Européens se la posent. La négliger serait irresponsable et il appartient aux musulmans issus de l’immigration d’y répondre. Ces propos sont durs, mais je les assume. Au moins on ne pourra pas taxer un Aboutaleb de racisme.
Craignez-vous pour votre sécurité?
De nos jours, si vous remplissez une charge publique, vous courez toujours un danger.
Votre vision du multiculturalisme néerlandais a-t-elle évolué?
La question est de savoir quelle est la place à donner à l’islam en Europe. Ce que je dis aux musulmans, c’est que plus ils embrasseront sincèrement notre Constitution et l’Etat de droit, plus leur place sera assurée. Inversement, s’ils pensent que l’islam prévaut sur la Constitution, cette place se réduira.
Vous êtes bien plus populaire que le Parti du Travail (social-démocrate), auquel vous appartenez. Les Pays-Bas pourraient-ils être, avec vous à sa tête, le premier pays européen à se doter d’un chef de gouvernement musulman?
Je n’ai jamais planifié ma vie, car on ne sait pas comment les choses évoluent. J’ai promis de rester maire de Rotterdam jusqu’en 2021. Pour être honnête, je ne crois pas qu’il soit réaliste d’envisager un Premier ministre musulman dans ce pays dans les cinquante ans qui viennent. Mais on ne sait jamais.
Ahmed Aboutaleb en 6 dates
1961 Naissance à Beni Sidel, au Maroc. 1976 Emigre avec ses parents aux Pays-Bas. 1987 Diplômé d’un institut de technologie. 1991 Chargé de la presse au ministère de la Santé. 2007 Secrétaire d’Etat aux Affaires sociales et à l’Emploi dans le gouvernement Balkenende. 2009 Maire de Rotterdam.
En savoir plus sur http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/ahmed-aboutaleb-l-islam-doit-se-remettre-en-question_1652295.html#KGIEv8KaFBuHgoKq.99
En savoir plus sur http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/ahmed-aboutaleb-l-islam-doit-se-remettre-en-question_1652295.html#KGIEv8KaFBuHgoKq.99
Five Middle East Blunders
The underlying causes of chaos in the Middle East are indigenous. But Obama hasn’t helped.
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
February 17, 2015
President Obama claims he inherited a mess in the Middle East. Not so.
Fracking and horizontal drilling on private lands in the U.S. had taken off in the last years of the Bush administration and by 2009 were set to revolutionize America’s energy future. By 2011, the U.S. had cut way back its dependence on Middle Eastern gas and oil imports, which in turn gave American diplomats a measure of immunity from petro-blackmail, and therefore far more clout in the region. Iraq was mostly stable; in Anbar Province tens of thousands of jihadists had been killed by U.S. troops and their tribal allies. Iran’s scope was limited by a new moderate axis of Sunni states, Israel, and the United States. A bruised Hezbollah faced a huge rebuilding tab in southern Lebanon. Libya was beginning to shed at least some of its bizarre past. The Palestinians had no desire for another Intifada. The Middle East was looking to the U.S. for leadership, inasmuch as the surge in Iraq had regained respect for American arms and determination.
All that now is ancient history. In five critical areas, the U.S. blew it.
Sanctions were starting to squeeze Iran, which had been unable to absorb Shiite-dominated Iraq. Unrest in Iran was rising, spearheaded by pro-Western young reformers. Less than a month after Barack Obama’s inauguration, over a million Iranians hit the streets to protest their country’s rigged elections. The Europeans were beginning to understand that a nuclear Iran posed a greater threat of nuclear blackmail to the EU than to the U.S.
Poland and the Czech Republic had agreed to partner with the U.S. in creating an anti-ballistic missile system to deter Iran’s growing missile program. The U.S. and its friends occasionally sent armadas slowly through the Strait of Hormuz to remind Iran that we were determined that international waters would always remain international.
So what happened?
The new Obama administration kept silent as the pro-Western Iranian protests deflated. In herky-jerky style, Obama at first upped the sanctions as Tehran ignored his serial empty deadlines on curbing enrichment. Then, unilaterally and without much warning, Obama relaxed sanctions. He reopened negotiations, even as Iran’s centrifuges multiplied. Currently, Iran is on the cusp of nuclear acquisition, and it quietly advises its supporters that the U.S. is both weak and naïve — and will soon be gone from the region.
Tehran is creating a sort of Co-Prosperity Sphere at the expense of Sunni and Western interests, as it sabotages Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon. There is no longer talk of regional U.S.-led missile defense.
In brilliantly diabolical fashion, Iran has maneuvered a deer-in-the-headlights U.S. into an embarrassing de facto alliance with it against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The partnership was designed by Tehran to save the pro-Iranian Assad government, to bolster Hezbollah, to relieve diplomatic pressures on its own nuclear-enrichment program, and to increase tensions between the U.S. and the Sunni moderate states like Jordan and the Gulf monarchies.
There has never been a greater likelihood than there is now, under Obama, that Iran will get the bomb, that it will create a radical theocratic Shiite alliance from Yemen to Iraq to Syria to Lebanon, and that it will direct Hamas and Hezbollah to start another war against Israel — this time backed by an Iranian nuclear deterrent.
In Iraq, U.S. strategy hinged on forcing the fledgling democracy to create loose alliances between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, with the understanding that they would all resist both al-Qaeda and Iranian-sponsored Shiite affiliates. And from 2009 to 2011, consensual government in Iraq seemed to be working, albeit mostly through the implied threats that nearby U.S. troops would intervene if it did not.
The country was more quiet than not. Indeed, the U.S. military there was losing more personnel each month to accidents than to combat. In December 2009, three Americans were killed in Iraq — the lowest figure for any month since the war began. In December 2011, no Americans were lost.
Obama, who had opposed the Iraq war, termed the country “secure” and “stable.” Vice President Joe Biden, who as senator had voted for the war, bragged that it might become the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement.” American proconsuls kept the pressure on Iranophile Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to treat Sunni tribes more equitably, and to keep Iraqi territory free of the Iranian military. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was comatose. Most Sunni Islamists had no desire for a replay of the Anbar Awakening and the Surge.
Then, for the sake of a 2012 reelection campaign point, Obama pulled out all U.S. constabulary troops at the end of 2011. The result was a void that drew in the dregs of the Middle East, as ISIS and the Iranian-back militias fought over the corpse of what used to be Syria and Iraq.
At the same time, the administration proclaimed empty red lines to Assad, in the manner it had given Iran empty deadlines — even as President Obama called ISIS a “jayvee” team that posed little threat to the U.S., or at least no more worries than what street criminals pose to the average big-city mayor.
A growing ISIS soon appealed to disenchanted Sunni tribes who felt that they had been ostracized by Baghdad, even as Iran encouraged the Iraqi government to ostracize them even more.
The ayatollahs’ great fear from 2008 to 2011 was that a viable, consensual Iraq on their border might weaken their theocratic control in Iran. Such anxiety vanished, replaced by a new confidence that, in the absence of U.S. garrisons, Tehran had turned Iraq into a vassal state.
When President Obama took office, Moammar Qaddafi was a psychotic monster in rehab. The U.S. was opening a new embassy in Tripoli. U.S. military officials were allowed nearly complete freedom to round up defunct WMD programs.
Western investors were welcomed in Libya. Westerners were talking of investing in Libyan enterprise zones, improving Libya’s oil and gas network, and reopening spectacular archaeological sites to tourism. Qaddafi had clamped down on Islamists, and seemed increasingly to be leaving decisions in the hands of his progeny. The Westernized next generation of Qaddafis were courted by the international jet set, and were subtly sending signals that even greater liberalization was on the horizon. Qaddafi had become a buffoon, not a beheader.
All that vanished when Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice ordered the bombings that turned Libya into a terrorist paradise, whose ultimate trajectory was Benghazi. They had turned up a day late and a dollar short in piggybacking on the Arab Spring unrest in Cairo. This time around they wanted to ride rather than watch the growing protests against Qaddafi — an odd thing, given their prior warnings about Bush-administration naïveté in trying to promote consensual government in the volatile Middle East by force of arms.
The first thing that went wrong was that the U.S. intervention violated U.N. resolutions — which we had supported — about actions limited to humanitarian assistance and no-fly zones. That double cross alienated the snookered Russians, who had signed on to the U.N. resolution.
Then the U.S. ceded its traditional military leadership to the French and British through a lead-from-behind recessional. It turned a new diplomatic presence into dead Americans and a wrecked consulate in Benghazi.
Libya’s oil and gas industries currently resemble Nigeria’s — on a good day. Tripoli is a Mogadishu on the Mediterranean. No Westerner in his right mind will set foot on Libyan soil. The Obama administration’s experience in Libya can be summed up by its election-cycle fraud of jailing an obscure video maker for supposedly causing a “spontaneous” demonstration in which the consulate was ruined and four Americans were killed, including the ambassador — a yarn that even its promulgators no longer believe.
In Egypt, the old kleptocrat Hosni Mubarak was accustomed to chronic U.S. scoldings to democratize, even as he kept offering his own pushback warnings about the worse alternative of Islamic theocracy. If Egypt was not so stable, it was also not chaotic.
Unfortunately, the U.S. saw the Arab Spring as an excuse to dump a tired old ally and to welcome in his stead the U.S.-educated Mohamed Morsi and the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s team perhaps believed we were the belated avatars of the Arab Spring, as if the latter were analogous to our own revolution rather than something akin to the 1917 nightmare in Russia or the 1950s cutthroat Baathist takeover from the old corrupt Middle East monarchs.
The administration assured us that the Brothers were “largely secular,” even as they almost immediately went to work Islamicizing the largest nation in the Arab world and subverting the very elections that had brought them to power.
Here the administration’s achievement is quite surreal: Somehow we remain Egypt’s largest donor while being hated by all three of Egypt’s major groups — Islamists, the army, and the rest — who hate each other only slightly less than they do us. In practical terms, the administration earned the hatred of the vibrant General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in place of the good will of his decrepit mentor Mubarak — at the same cost of multi-billion-dollar-a-year subsidies.
Israel recently inflicted serious damage on Hezbollah in the 2006 war in Lebanon. For all the talk of Israeli ineptitude in that war, the final toll on Iranian interests was considerable. There seemed no desire on Hezbollah’s part to replay its aggression. Strong U.S. support for Israeli defensive measures discouraged Islamists from starting a new Intifada on the West Bank or in Gaza. Iranians worried that the U.S. might at any moment preempt their nuclear facility or welcome an Israeli strike on them.
Not now. The Obama administration immediately berated Israel for building houses around Jerusalem. Then came the Palestinian flotilla, and more American ambiguity. Then lectures during the Gaza war. The United States’ relationship with Israel is now at its weakest since the founding of the Jewish State. Administration aides leak slurs about war hero and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him a “coward” and “chickensh-t,” as if Obama’s open-mic smear of Netanyahu during the G-20 summit in Cannes was not enough.
The radical Arab world has a hunch that another war launched from Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, or Lebanon would not entirely anger a U.S. administration that is more worried about Jews building houses in Jerusalem than about Iranian subsidies to and military support of Hamas. When an American president characterizes an Islamic hit on a kosher market in Paris as a random attack, then it is clear — both to Americans and to the enemies of America — that Jews and Israel are mostly on their own.
Meet the new Middle East: a soon-to-be-nuclear and ascendant Iran, the spreading ISIS wasteland, Egypt and Libya as Somalia, and the end of Syria and Iraq. This was not foreordained, but instead the result of a series of bad U.S. mistakes.
Our Dangerous Historical Moment
Obama and European leaders are repeating the mistakes of their 1930s predecessors.
Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
February 19, 2015
World War II was the most destructive war in history. What caused it?
The panic from the ongoing and worldwide Depression in the 1930s had empowered extremist movements the world over. Like-minded, violent dictators of otherwise quite different Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, and the Communist Soviet Union all wanted to attack their neighbors.
Yet World War II could have been prevented had Western Europe united to deter Germany. Instead, France, Britain, and the smaller European democracies appeased Hitler.
The United States turned isolationist. The Soviet Union collaborated with the Third Reich. And Italy and Japan eventually joined it.
The 1930s saw rampant anti-Semitism. Jews were blamed in fascist countries for the economic downturn. They were scapegoated in democracies for stirring up the fascists. The only safe havens for Jews from Europe were Jewish-settled Palestine and the United States.
Does all this sound depressingly familiar?
The aftershocks of the global financial meltdown of 2008 still paralyze the European Union while prompting all sorts of popular extremist movements and opportunistic terrorists.
After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, America has turned inward. The Depression and the lingering unhappiness over World War I did the same to Americans in the 1930s.
Premodern monsters are on the move. The Islamic State is carving up Syria and Iraq to fashion a fascist caliphate.
Vladimir Putin gobbles up his neighbors in Ossetia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine, in crude imitation of the way Germany once swallowed Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Theocratic Iran is turning Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon into a new Iranian version of Japan’s old Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The Western response to all this? Likewise, similar to the 1930s.
The NATO allies are terrified that Putin will next attack the NATO-member Baltic states — and that their own paralysis will mean the embarrassing end of the once-noble alliance.
The United States has now fled from four Middle Eastern countries. It forfeited its post-surge victory in Iraq. It was chased out of Libya after the killings of Americans in Benghazi. American red lines quickly turned pink in Syria. U.S. Marines just laid down their weapons and flew out of the closed American embassy in Yemen.
America has convinced its European partners to drop tough sanctions against Iran. In the manner of the Allies in 1938 at Munich, they prefer instead to charm Iran, in hopes it will stop making a nuclear bomb.
The Islamic State has used almost a year of unchallenged aggression to remake the map of the Middle East. President Obama had variously dismissed it as a jayvee team or merely akin to the problems that big-city mayors face.
Europeans pay out millions to ransom their citizens from radical Islamic hostage-beheaders. Americans handed over terrorist kingpins to get back a likely Army deserter.
Then we come to the return of the Jewish question. Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, Jews are once again leaving France. They have learned that weak governments either will not or cannot protect them from Islamic terrorists.
In France, radical Islamists recently targeted a kosher market. In Denmark, they went after a synagogue. In South Africa, students demanded the expulsion of Jewish students from a university. A Jewish prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina was found mysteriously murdered.
Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being blamed for stoking Middle Eastern tensions. Who cares that he resides over the region’s only true democracy, one that is stable and protects human rights? Obama-administration aides have called him a coward and worse. President Obama has dismissed the radical Islamists’ targeting of Jews in France merely as “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.”
Putin, the Islamic State, and Iran at first glance have as little in common as did Germany, Italy, and Japan. But like the old Axis, they are all authoritarians that share a desire to attack their neighbors. And they all hate the West.
The grandchildren of those who appeased the dictators of the 1930s once again prefer in the short term to turn a blind eye to the current fascists. And the grandchildren of the survivors of the Holocaust once again get blamed.
The 1930s should have taught us that aggressive autocrats do not have to like each other to share hatred of the West.
The 1930s should have demonstrated to us that old-time American isolationism and the same old European appeasement will not prevent but only guarantee a war.
And the 1930s should have reminded us that Jews are usually among the first — but not the last — to be targeted by terrorists, thugs, and autocrats.
Voir de même:
Roer L. Simon
February 14th, 2015
Oh, no.. Don’t tell me ISIS has got us surrounded in Anbar? Sorry, I meant ISIL. I thought they were the jayvee team. Oh, right, they’re “on the defensive” and Congress has an ““extraordinary opportunity.”
That’s fine then. Don’t be upset, you “progressives” at the Huffington Post and Vox. This is just a police matter — like parking tickets or, at worst, running a red light. All this 1938 talk is a bunch of nonsense from wingnuts. History never repeats itself except, as Marx told us, as farce. Chairman Barack’s got it all handled. He’s holding a conference on “extremism.” And he has a new pen pal. No, it’s not Netanyahu.
Okay, enough of this. The “liberals” around us are hopeless useful idiots who wouldn’t know what was happening to them after two years in the Warsaw Ghetto. Maybe Marx was right about the farce.
But we don’t have the luxury. With each passing day it becomes increasingly clear we are in a huge war of civilizations. This is a bigger deal than anything since WWII. Nothing could be more obvious. That means 2016 is about as serious as it gets. We need our Churchill fast, but in searching for him (or her) we cannot afford a bloodletting. We have to treat this as a wartime situation because it is.
Frankly, I haven’t seen a single candidate do that yet. I’m looking for that person. Everything else is secondary or tertiary. They’re all irrelevant, even a distraction at this point, if we don’t win the war. And don’t think we can’t lose. Our technology is only a small advantage and has already been ripped off and used against us. The will to win is far more important and our will is next to non-existent, especially at the top. And as everyone knows, or should, we have almost lost twice before. It took a Charles Martel at Tours to beat back Islam and, much later, the battle at the Gates of Vienna. But don’t expect much help at Vienna this time. News from Austria is not great, where Muslims already outnumber Catholics in Vienna schools. That gates are open. And if Obama gives Iran the bomb, who needs gates?
So we need somebody relatively fast and somebody who, above all, is a great commander-in-chief. I’ve said this several times before and will keep saying it until he or she is in place. Moreover, by focusing on winning the war, Republicans will have the best possible chance of winning the election. The country will be with us. The average American, smarter than the elites, realizes the danger of losing. They care about their country unambivalently. But we have to keep up the flow of information to them. We have to inspire them. We cannot stop. We cannot give up. We have everything to lose
Voir par ailleurs:
The battle for accurate Bible translation in Asia
Local pastors and churches object to translations that call God the father ‘the great protector’ and Jesus the ‘representative of God’
Feb. 13, 2012
Fikret Bocek says that Turkish quince, a fruit like a pear, takes a long time to grow and ripen, but it’s delicious. Patience is key for good quince, he says, and also for the salvation of his fellow Turks, most of whom are Muslim like he once was.
Patience was key when the Turkish police arrested and imprisoned him for 10 days in 1988, when he was beaten, verbally abused, and tortured with electrical shocks. The police ordered Bocek, then a teenager and a new convert to Christianity, to recite the shahada, « There is no God but Allah. » Despite a crippling fear, he found he could not physically open his mouth to say it, which he attributes to divine intervention.
Patience, a fierce patience, was key in 2007 when a group of Muslims brutally murdered a close friend of his and two other Christians while they were meeting for a Bible study in Malatya, Turkey. The Muslims, who had pretended that they were interested in Christianity, murdered the three men in a two-hour torture session the killers filmed. They finally slit the Christians’ throats from ear to ear.
We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)
Bocek, 40, now a pastor and church planter in the coastal town of Izmir, Turkey, tells Western mission agencies to be more patient for faith to ripen in Muslims in his country, and not to alter key biblical phrases in translations for the sake of outreach. The phrase « Son of God » is offensive to Muslims because it seems to imply that God was a physical father to Jesus through a sexual union with Mary, so some translators have sought to find alternate terms to describe that relationship. « They get involved in these translations because they see that there is no fruit, » Bocek said. « We have results. But you have to be patient and take it really, really slow. » He and his fellow pastors address the offensive connotations of « Son of God » by explaining what it really means. « For centuries, » he said, « that’s the way it went. »
Western mission agencies now are feeling a wave of backlash against these « contextualized » translations-not just from a few conservative denominations in the United States, but from an array of local churches in the countries where these translations are going out. While some Turkish pastors, including several contacted for this article, preferred to let Western mission agencies sort out the controversy on their own, others are taking action. At least a dozen Turkish pastors, as well as some whole churches from the Turkish cities of Adana, Samsun, and Bodrum, have signed a petition condemning a new Turkish translation of Matthew. Harun Ibrahim, the director of Al Hayat TV, a Christian satellite television station that broadcasts to millions in the Middle East, also signed the petition. And the Pakistan Bible Society is ending its two decades of partnership with SIL, a translation partner of Wycliffe Bible Translators, over the issue.
A team of translators with Frontiers helped produce the disputed translation of Matthew in Turkish, and SIL said some of its consultants helped at certain points in the process. Sabeel Media, a partner organization of SIL, published the translation in August 2011, printing it in book form and posting it online. In the Turkish Matthew, the « alternative form » for « Son of God » is something along the lines of « representative of God, » according to Turkish speakers, and « God the Father » has become « great protector. » A footnote explains the alternate terms: « According to the Jews, ‘God’s Son’ means ‘God’s beloved ruler’ and is equivalent with the title ‘Messiah.' »
The alternative translation runs on pages on the right, while the pages on the left have an « interlinear » translation with the original Greek words and Turkish underneath, containing the literal translation of the divine familial terms. Bocek, however, said Turks are unlikely to read the literal version on the left-hand side, where the Turkish words run underneath the Greek, but rather the right-hand page that is just Turkish.
The translators emphasize their desire to promote evangelism. Bob Blincoe, the U.S. director of Frontiers, cited in an email lack of growth as one reason for the translation: « The big problem is that church planting among the tens of millions of religious Muslims in Turkey has not been successful; it has not even begun. » Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim, according to the CIA World Factbook. Turks estimate that their country has about 5,000 Christians now, but when Bocek became a Christian in 1988, he was one of a total of 80 Protestants in the country. « One significant barrier may be the existing translation of the Bible, » Blincoe wrote in an email: « These are paraphrases that help a conservative Sunni Muslim audience know what the Bible really says. »
As a Sunni Muslim himself, Bocek also found the phrase « Son of God » offensive: « I could not accept Jesus being the Son of God or God being the Father or the deity of Christ. … Basically God just worked in my heart. » Bocek grew up in Istanbul and the Turkish national television had one channel and showed one movie a week, he said. One day it showed Ben Hur, which depicts Jesus’ crucifixion. That began his search for answers about Jesus. He eventually found an international church and spent months studying the Bible from beginning to end, until he had « nothing else left » but to accept faith.
Bocek, trained in linguistics at a Turkish university, then studied at Westminster Seminary California, graduating in 1998 and returning to Turkey to plant a church in 2001 with his wife. During the process of translating Matthew, a Frontiers missionary consulted with Bocek about the book. Bocek said he objected to the alterations to the familial terms, but that wasn’t the only problem with the translation: He said the Turkish was unnatural and contained grammatical errors. A Turkish translation of the Bible exists already, but the Frontiers translators explained to supporters that they needed another translation to reach conservative Muslims.
« There is no cause for anyone to be alarmed by the accuracy of this translation, » said Blincoe, the Frontiers director. He said the petition against the Turkish Matthew amounts to « slander » and is « like yelling, ‘Fire!’ in a theater. » The petition « has been a great disservice to the peace and unity of the church, » he said. He emphasized that the Turkish-Greek translation on the left-hand page preserves the literal terms for Son of God and God the Father. When I said that Turkish speakers say the translation on the right-hand page alters those familial terms, he responded, « You and I don’t know what the paraphrase says. »
But then Blincoe said the translation team doesn’t have plans to translate the other books of the New Testament, so I asked why not if he thought this was an important tactic to reach unreached people. He said that was simply what workers in the field had told him: « Let’s give it a chance to do its work. » In an email he added, « The team believes that if Turks do not take ownership, the project will just fade away, as the teacher Gamaliel commented about human efforts in Acts 5. »
Blincoe said Frontiers has contacted a number of local pastors in the last few weeks and urged them to read the translation for the first time (implying that critics hadn’t read it). He said many approve. Bocek countered that many Turkish pastors have read the translation, and still disapprove. He and the other Protestant pastors he knows oppose it-not just Reformed pastors like himself, but also those at « extreme charismatic » churches. « They’re not listening, » he said about the missions agencies: « They come with theories and they leave with theories. … We are going to be the ones who are going to be sweeping up all their mistakes. »
Thomas Cosmades, a Turkish Christian who translated the New Testament into Turkish from the original Greek, mailed a letter to Frontiers at the end of 2007 after he saw a copy of the Turkish Matthew. (Several hundred were printed before the official publication in 2011). Cosmades died in 2010, at age 86, just after he published a new edition of his New Testament. In his letter he wrote that he was « highly disquieted » by the paraphrased Matthew and proceeded to analyze the debatable phrases in detail.
« This translation is not seeking to emphasize the value of the incarnation, » he wrote. « Should the trend continue, who knows where it will lead the coming generation? If Athanasius of old would have encountered such departure from biblical Christology he would have placed these redactors far below the Arians. » He continued: « Undoubtedly the people who are working hard on this paraphrase have given much of their valuable time, probably meaning well. I wish I had a positive word concerning their efforts, but I regret that this is not the case. In this paraphrase the stakes are high; the pitfalls dismal. »
Blincoe couldn’t answer whether the translation had been changed in response to Cosmades’ critiques before its official publication in 2011, but Bocek said, « The kinds of words [Cosmades] said they’re using, it’s still there. » Cosmades’ wife Lila also signed the petition condemning the translation of Matthew.
Everyone interviewed who was critical of the translation said they believe a small minority of individuals in these mission agencies is pushing these translations in Turkey and other countries, and most missionaries are faithful to the Bible. « Missionaries give their lives for us, » said Samuel Naaman, a Pakistani believer who now teaches at Moody Bible Institute: « You’re hearing from a person who came to Christ through the power of missionaries’ prayers for 18 years. I was discipled and trained by the missionaries. »
Naaman said « contextualizing » the gospel for the local culture is fine: « Christ himself came to us, and was born as a human. … He is the founder and the basis of contextualization. » He is nevertheless worried about the consequences of contextualized translations for the church in Pakistan: « Many of the pastors don’t even know that this curse is being imposed on us. … Then they will have to face the repercussions. »
The Pakistan church at large may not know about the debate, but the Pakistan Bible Society (PBS) does. After 20 years of work together, the Bible society and SIL are parting ways over the issue, which is a blow to SIL because now it must operate without the imprimatur of the premier local publisher. SIL said in a statement that the decision not to work together on one project was mutual, the result of « translation style differences, » not just the debate on divine familial terms.
But the general secretary of the Pakistan Bible Society, Anthony Lamuel, wrote in a letter on Jan. 26 that the issue of altering terms for target audiences was central in the decision, and added that such translations have resulted in the « water downing » of Christian concepts: « We the Pakistan Bible Society will not promote experiments with the translation at the cost of hurting the church. »
A woman working on another translation project in Central Asia, who asked for anonymity for the sake of her work, said the debate on the « Son of God » issue in her translation team has deadlocked their project and stirred confusion among local believers who don’t have a Bible in their own language as a reference: « It has eroded their faith in the authority of the Word of God and in us as foreigners who are supposed to be the ‘teachers’ but can’t seem to agree on some basic truths of who Christ said he was. … Sadly it raises doubts and endless discussion, wasting a lot of time. »
Anwar Hussain, the head of the Bangladesh Bible Society, has been at the forefront of efforts in his country the last few years to repel Bible translations from various groups that change divine familial terms. Hussain grew up Muslim, and when he professed Christ as a young man, his family cut ties with him. Edward Ayub, another Christian of Muslim background, is the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh and-alongside Hussain-has vigorously opposed the translations. « I want to die for the Bible, » not a misleading translation, Ayub said. « The harm they are doing now for the church will be long-lasting. »
Back in Turkey, Bocek recalled meeting a young Muslim who was in school in Izmir, and who planned to train for jihad. He offered the young man a Bible, and the man took it, saying he would prove « the Bible is a corrupt book. » The young man read through the whole Bible and met with Bocek regularly to talk about it over the course of almost a year. « He started saying he saw the real corruption, » Bocek said. « He realized his heart was corrupt. » When the man became a Christian, his parents sought to kill him, and the church had to hide him for two years. « These are the kinds of things that happen, » Bocek said, « when they say there’s no fruit. »
(Editor’s note: The article has been corrected to reflect new details concerning the three Christians who were murdered in Malatya, Turkey, in 2007. Early reports of the murders included other details and those reports have been repeated since, but individuals who saw the bodies confirmed to WORLD that those early reports were inaccurate.)
Mainline Christian organizations are changing their holy scripture to avoid offending Muslims. Not only does this violate their scripture, but it also defeats the purpose of their mission–to share the Gospel. If mainline Christian organizations fear Muslims so much that they have to edit what they believe to be the Word of God, how far can they be from submission? Where are the righteous, the outraged, the proud?
It is Islamic authorities who should be excising the quran and hadith of the ideology that calls for jihad, genocide, subjugation and oppression of women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and all non-Muslims. It is the ummah who should be calling for sharia bans. Instead, the Christians are bastardizing their scripture? The Muslims refer to Christians in their daily prayers as « those who are led astray » (Muslims curse Christians and Jews multiple times in daily prayers). This madness validates their contempt and supremacism:
Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations “have failed to persuade these agencies to retain “Father” and “Son” in the text of all their translations.”
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition. The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:
First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of “Lord” instead of “Father” and “Messiah” instead of “Son.”
Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes “Father” in reference to God and replaces it with “Allah,” and removes or redefines “Son.”
For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit” instead of “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab American who runs Middle East Resources, terms these organization’s efforts as “a western imperialistic attempt that’s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology.” (more here)
Report: American Bible translators bowdlerize scriptures to avoid offending Muslims: no « Father » and « Son » Jihadwatch
If this is true, for the parties they are trying not to offend, anything short of Islam — of professing that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger — would be « offensive. » This is not making Christianity more palatable. It is de-Christianizing it. It is manufacturing yet another Christian heresy.
Indeed, for many denominations, the validity of baptism depends on the words used: « I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. » No euphemisms, no nicknames: for example, trial balloons aiming to portray a more gender-neutral God have already been burst: the use of « Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier » in baptism has been rejected by the Catholic Church, if not others.
Those who truly believe they are winning souls for Christ would not risk the validity of baptism, and those who are genuinely convinced that they possess the truth will not apologize or worry it is offensive.
As a technical matter, one wonders how the translators handle the words: « Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son » (1 John 2:22). And « But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven » (Matthew 10:33).
One last bit of holy writ: « You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward. » – James Thurber
« ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ Ousted from the Trinity in New Bible Translations, » by Hussein Hajj Wario for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, January 27 (thanks to CGW):
A controversy is brewing over three reputable Christian organizations, which are based in North America, whose efforts have ousted the words « Father » and « Son » from new Bibles. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and Frontiers are under fire for « producing Bibles that remove « Father, » « Son » and « Son of God » because these terms are offensive to Muslims. » Concerned Christian missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, and national church leaders have come together with a public petition to stop these organizations. They claim a public petition is their last recourse because meetings with these organizations’ leaders, staff resignations over this issue and criticism and appeals from native national Christians concerned about the translations « have failed to persuade these agencies to retain « Father » and « Son » in the text of all their translations. »
Clearly, they fail to appreciate the far-reaching ramifications that Christians not only may dare, but are commanded to call on the Creator of the Universe as « Father. » That fundamentally re-wires one’s relationship with God and describes a unique intimacy and bond of love that ought not be squandered to score short-term points.
Biblical Missiology, a ministry of Boulder, Colorado-based Horizon International, is sponsoring the petition.
The main issues of this controversy surround new Arabic and Turkish translations. Here are three examples native speakers give:
First, Wycliffe and SIL have produced Stories of the Prophets, an Arabic Bible that uses an Arabic equivalent of « Lord » instead of « Father » and « Messiah » instead of « Son. »
Second, Frontiers and SIL have produced Meaning of the Gospel of Christ , an Arabic translation which removes « Father » in reference to God and replaces it with « Allah, » and removes or redefines « Son. » For example, the verse which Christians use to justify going all over the world to make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) reads, « Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit » instead of « baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. » Rev. Bassam Madany, an Arab American who runs Middle East Resources, terms these organization’s efforts as « a western imperialistic attempt that’s inspired by cultural anthropology, and not by biblical theology. »
Third, Frontiers and SIL have produced a new Turkish translation of the Gospel of Matthew that uses Turkish equivalents of « guardian » for « Father » and « representative » or « proxy » for « Son. » To Turkish church leader Rev. Fikret Böcek, « This translation is ‘an all-American idea’ with absolutely no respect for the ‘sacredness’ of Scripture, or even of the growing Turkish church. »
SIL has issued a public response stating « all personnel subscribe to a statement of faith which affirms the Trinity, Christ’s deity, and the inspiration of Scripture. » However, in the same statement, which is similar to Wycliffe’s, it claims « word-for-word translation of these titles would communicate an incorrect meaning (i.e. that God had physical, sexual relationships with Mary) [sic], » thus justifying substituting « Father » and « Son » in new translations. Calls and emails to Wycliffe and SIL to clarify their positions were not returned. Frontiers responded to calls with articles that critics have already dismissed as skirting omissions of « Father » and « Son » in new Bible translations.
The point about sexual connotations is baloney. Many of these countries have, or once had indigenous Christian populations with scriptures in indigenous languages where this was not a problem. If they’re coming up with something untoward, they need better translators.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
TERMINOLOGY TO DEFINE THE TERRORISTS: RECOMMENDATIONS FROM AMERICAN MUSLIMS
Words matter. The terminology that senior government officials use must accurately identify the nature of the challenges that face our generation. It is critical that all Americans properly understand the gravity of the threats we face, and prepare themselves to take the steps necessary to build a secure future. We are facing an enemy that holds a totalitarian ideology, and seeks to impose that ideology through force across the globe. We must resist complacency. The language that senior government officials use can help to rally Americans to vigilance.
At the same time, the terminology should also be strategic – it should avoid helping the terrorists by inflating the religious bases and glamorous appeal of their ideology. One of the most common concerns expressed by Muslims in America, and indeed the West, is that senior government officials and commentators in the mass media regularly indict all Muslims for the acts of a few. They argue that terminology can cr
eate either a negative climate, in which acts of harassment or discrimination occur, or, by contrast, a positive climate, such as President Bush’s remarks while visiting a mosque in the days after 9/11.
If senior government officials
carefully select strategic term
inology, the government’s public
statements will encourage vigilance without uni
ntentionally undermining security objectives.
That is, the terminology we use must be accurate with
respect to the very real threat we face. At
the same time, our terminology must be properly ca
librated to diminish the recruitment efforts of
extremists who argue that the West is at war with Islam.
This memorandum outlines recommendations from
a wide variety of American Muslim leaders
regarding the difficult terrain of terminology. This memorandum does not state official
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy nor
does it address legal de
finitions. Rather, it
outlines recommendations compiled by the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
(CRCL) from its discussions with a broad rang
e of Muslim American community leaders and
On May 8, 2007, Secretary Chertoff met with a group of influential Muslim Americans to
discuss ways the Department can work with th
eir communities to protect the country, promote
civic engagement, and prevent viol
ent radicalization from taking root
in the United States. Part
of the discussion involved the terminology U.S.
Government (USG) officials use to describe
terrorists who invoke Islamic theology in planni
ng, carrying out, and justif
ying their attacks.
While there was a broad consen
sus that the terminology the USG uses impacts both national
security and the ability to wi
n hearts and minds, this discu
ssion did not yield any specific
recommendations. Secretary Chertoff requested th
at these leaders continue to reflect on the
words and terms that, in their opinion, DHS a
nd the broader USG should use. Based on this
request, CRCL has consulted with some of the leading U.S.-based scholars and commentators on
Islam to discuss the best terminology to us
e when describing the terrorist threat.
Starting from the premise that words do indeed
matter, three foundational assumptions inform
(1) We should not demonize all Muslims or Islam;
(2) Because the terrorists themselves use theol
ogy and religious terms to justify both their
means and ends, the terms we use must
be accurate and de
(3) Our words should be strategic; we must be
conscious of history, culture, and context.
In an era where a statement can cross continen
ts in a manner of seconds, it is essential
that officials consider how terms translate,
and how they will resonate with a variety of
Expert Recommendation 1 – Respond to ideologi
es that exploit Islam without labeling all
terrorist groups as a single enemy.
The public statements of the USG must convey the
ideological dimensions of the terrorist threat,
in addition to conveying its tactical dimensions.
Specifically, it is important for the public to
understand that many extremists groups seek to
impose their totalitarian
worldview by seizing
political power through force. In labeling speci
fic organizations and movements, however, the
experts recommend that the USG s
hould not feed the notion that Am
erica is engaged in a broad
struggle against the so-called “Muslim World.”
Currently, the U.S. and its allies are facing
threats from a variety of terrori
st organizations operating acro
ss the globe. But the threats
presented by transnational movements like al-Qaeda are perhaps the most serious.
these experts, al-Qaeda wants al
l Muslims to line up under its banner. Collapsing all terrorist
organizations into a single enemy feeds the
narrative that al-Qaeda represents Muslims
worldwide. Al-Qaeda may be spreading its
influence, but the USG should not abet its
franchising by making links when none exist. Fo
r example, the cult members arrested in Miami
should not be called members of al-Qaeda; and, wh
ile they are both terror
ist organizations who
threaten global security and st
ability, Hezbollah and Hamas are di
stinct in methods, motivations
and goals from al-Qaeda. When possible, th
e experts recommend that USG terminology should
make this clear.
“National Intelligence Estimate: Th
e Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland.” p. 6 (July 17, 2007)
(July, 28 2007).
Words Matter: The Role of Lexicon in Counter-Terrorism Communications Strategy
Head of Unit
Research, Information and Communications Unit
Cross-Government Unit, reporting to: United Kingdom Home Office,
Communities & Local Government, & Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Officer for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties
US Department of Homeland Security
RICU, which is jointly managed by the Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was set up last year in the aftermath of the 2006 plot to blow up airliners with liquid explosives. UK officials concluded that while al-Qa’ida and its allies were excelling at promoting their own narrative and propaganda, no one in the government was responsible for pushing back. RICU was established to fill this gap and achieve three key goals: exposing the weaknesses of and undermining violent ideologies; supporting and promoting credible alternative voices; and strengthening and protecting the UK government through strategic communications.
Jonathan Allen said that there are broad themes common to extremist messages: a global war on Islam, as evidenced by conflicts in places like Iraq, Chechnya, and the Palestinian Territories; local issues, such as counterterrorism legislation or police profiling; and personal issues, such as underemployment among Muslims in the UK. The goal of such messaging, he said, was to make individuals feel like part of a group under attack, with violence as the only available response.
Initial attempts to counter this narrative focused on arguments for siding with the UK government in the War on Terror – what Mr. Allen called the “Sign Up Today” approach – but had little credibility and were met with resistance. Many in the UK were angry at and alienated from the government, so RICU switched instead to an audience-focused, three-part counter-narrative.
The first part, said Mr. Allen, is the message that there is a real threat to all UK citizens. While Mr. Allen does not believe terrorists pose an existential threat and do not form a grand army, he emphasized that they do represent a real threat to all people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Citing the large number of Muslims killed in the July 2005 terrorist attack in London, Mr. Allen said that “bombs don’t swerve around faiths.”
Second is the message that the terrorist ideology is morally repugnant. Rather than “jihadis” or “warriors,” as they like to call themselves, they are thugs who murder innocent people and who attempt to use Islam to justify violence. Mr. Allen says this effort seeks to draw a line around the terrorists, not the UK government: a person might not like UK policies or the government very much, but as long as they oppose extremism, they are “still in some way on our side.” Muslims, he said, should be able to feel like they are both Muslims and British at the same time.
Finally, RICU seeks to challenge its audiences to do something about the threat. Once one accepts that there is a threat, said Mr. Allen, one must take on a personal commitment to do something about it.
Understanding audiences is vital, said Mr. Allen. In a world of globalized communications, RICU draws little distinction between domestic and international messaging, though it pays careful attention to individual segments of its audiences – which radio programs a teenager or an adult prefers, for example, or where children seek information about religion online. Most importantly, messages must be crafted to resonate emotionally with audiences.
Mr. Allen repeatedly emphasized the importance of using an appropriate lexicon informed by the audiences. Government messages originally used the term “Islamist terrorism” in an attempt to focus on a particular branch of political Islam, rather than on Islam as a whole. When polled, however, the vast majority of people had no idea there was a distinction, and many in the Muslim community interpreted the term to mean “all Muslims are terrorists.” RICU then polled the community, asking them what terms they used to describe terrorists, and from the list – which included “idiots, sickos, bastards, and nutters” – RICU selected “criminals and murderers.” Terms like “jihadi” or “jihadist,” while accepted as disparaging by UK audiences, were rejected by Muslims abroad as associating terrorism with Islam. RICU also works to avoid using the terminology of battles and wars in order to undermine the extremist claims about a “War on Islam.” Responding to every communiqué by al-Qa’ida leaders, he said, only serves to elevate their importance.
Similar efforts are underway in the US. Last year the US Congress passed a law requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with experts to ensure that government lexicon regarding terrorism is precise, appropriate, and does not aid extremism by alienating segments of society. Daniel Sutherland, whose office advises the Department of Homeland Security on civil rights and civil liberties, oversaw the publication of the resulting paper, Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims, this January.
The Department of Homeland Security is highly active in community engagement. Mr. Sutherland’s office in particular works extensively with America’s Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh communities, which consistently raise issues of terminology – especially regarding how government officials talk about them and their religions in the context of terrorism and violence. These connections facilitated the development of the report, a collection of recommendations from outside the government that bear striking resemblance to RICU’s efforts to define an effective lexicon.
Mr. Sutherland outlined the report’s recommendations, which he said were not intended to serve as a glossary of approved words but instead to provoke thought and discussion on the topic. The report warns against glamorizing or glorifying terrorists, especially by grouping disparate groups under the rubric of al-Qa’ida. Instead, the report prefers to reference the movement’s cult-like nature, accusing terrorists of wrapping violence in religion. This is something that resonates with general American audiences as well as those steeped in Islamic jurisprudence. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, for example, has begun to refer to the terrorist movement as a “network of cult-like entities.” The report made no mention of military terminology because there was no consensus on it.
The report also warns officials against using religious or Arabic terms with which they are unfamiliar. Mispronounced or misused references to history or theology harm efforts to connect with audiences. Muslim audiences in particular object to the term “moderate Muslims,” which is seen as implying a government preference to work only with Muslims with a weak adherence to their religion. Preferred instead is the term “mainstream Muslim.” The one religious term that has been found useful, said Mr. Sutherland, is takfiri. A takfiri is a Muslim who declares another Muslim to be an apostate and therefore lawful to be killed, a prerogative historically considered to belong to the divine or to the community as a whole, but which groups like al-Qa’ida have now claimed for themselves. Many of the experts who contributed to the report’s findings recommended serious consideration of the term.
Mr. Sutherland argued that the strongest argument against extremism is the positive: emphasizing what the US and its allies are for, not just what they are against. The successful integration of Muslims into US society, for example, powerfully undercuts many of the extremists’ arguments. People around the world share many of the same concerns – good jobs, happy children, looking forward to a bright future – which an effective lexicon should emphasize to build common ground against extremism.
Looking to history, said Jeffrey Imm, is the best way of defining an effective lexicon. In particular, he emphasized the US experience with the Ku Klux Klan, an extremist group that has engaged in terrorism and at one time counted four million members and many more supporters. The US response was to attack the white supremacist ideology behind the movement. He called it an all-out total war, involving social, economic, ideological, and other aspects of life. Fought in schools, churches, and every other public place, this effort defended democratic values and pluralism against extremism, despite engendering high costs and huge divisions in US society. It was also undertaken no matter whom was offended and without regard to white supremacist claims of a war against white Americans. Just as this effort was undertaken without concern that it would alienate white Americans and drive them into the extremist movement, Mr. Imm argued that the US should fight the current terrorist threat without concern of alienating audiences and encouraging them to side with the terrorists. Had the US confronted a movement like the KKK while trying to prevent people from joining the movement, he said, the US would have lost. Just as the US once needed white Americans to change, he said, the US now needs Muslims who embrace what he calls “Islamic supremacy” to change.
Mr. Imm suggested using confrontational terms – labeling the extremist movement “jihad,” or “Islamic or Islamist supremacy,” for example – to cause Muslims to look critically at such ideologies. Ignoring the Islamist aspect of the threat risks defeat. He warned against euphemisms, saying that officials often make terms so obscure they lose all confrontational value. The shared values that should be emphasized are freedom and liberty, he said, and attacking terrorist ideologies is the way to demonstrate commitment to those values. Alienating people is the price to pay for confronting the extremist ideology. He cited today’s society as evidence for the success of this strategy in the past.
Individuals taking their own actions, added Mr. Allen, will make the real difference. The role of government is important, he said, but will be small in this effort. The most important contribution by government will be empowering credible voices to oppose the extremist ideology; once a debate has been fostered, the ideology is likely to crumble under its own weight. This often requires capacity building within communities, often something as simple as training in public speaking. Some of the most powerful voices against terrorism are those who have left and rejected the extremist movement. Most of those credible voices, he said, will likely never be known to the wider world – they will be the parents, siblings, or neighbors who notice something and get involved.
One of our biggest assets, said HSPI director Frank Cilluffo, is al-Qa’ida itself – the barbarity of its violence and the bankruptcy of its ideology. The terrorists’ narrative, he concluded, is their real center of gravity, the point which must be attacked – from within – to defeat them. Defeating them therefore entails inducing their ideology to collapse under its own weight. Though he hopes to marshal all instruments of statecraft against extremism, most of the solutions do not lie within the government but within vulnerable communities themselves, at the grassroots level. The government can facilitate grassroots efforts against extremism, he said, but only if the words we use win over, rather than alienate, potential allies and denigrate, rather than bolster, our adversaries.
The HSPI Policy & Research Forum series is designed to spotlight cutting-edge policy solutions and innovative strategies to some of the most pressing national and international concerns. The Forum features leading officials, practitioners and thinkers in a systematic way designed to better highlight their work and promote a dialogue on effective solutions to current issues.