Saturday, 14 November 2015

So much death, what can men do against such reckless hate?

At the time I post this at least 127 people have been murdered in Paris by Muslim terrorists, 99 are critically wounded, and I am finally driven to post some thoughts that I nearly posted in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo atrocities.

9/11 The World Trade Centre.
7/7 London.
Charlie Hebdo.
13/11 Paris.
I could have made this list longer...
I could have included the atrocities against Shia, Christians, Yazidis, women, homosexuals, atheists...
I could have included the many atrocities against Shia Muslims...

Where has this violence come from? It is true that there is a role for Western political thought in the situation, however the core problem within Islam has deeper roots. Wiki Islam provides a useful list that casts light on the character of the prophet Mohammed. Over 40 instances are provided, let's tally the score with Jesus Christ and The Lord Buddha.

Deaths ordered by, or sanctioned post hoc, by three religious leaders.
The Prophet Mohammed:    >40.
Jesus Christ:                         0.
The Lord Buddha:                   0.

Particularly enlightening is the fate of the Banu Qurayza tribe, to quote from WikiIslam:
Attack Banu Qurayza because according to Muslim tradition he had been ordered to do so by the angel Gabriel.[46][47][48][49][50][51] One of Muhammad's companions decided that "the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives". Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to God's judgment,[49][50][52][53][54] after which all male members of the tribe who had reached puberty were beheaded[47][55]
The numbers are cite links to supporting references, which I leave in to avert any claims that this is not supported.

This reported attack on the Banu Qurayza tribe is enlightening in view of the recent activities of Daesh (aka Islamic State), who are reported to have murdered male Yazidis and taken their women and children as chattels (a word I choose pointedly due to its medieval connotations). Regarding the fate of abducted Yazidi and Christian girls I could mention the fact that Mohammed married one of his wives (Aisha) when she was 6 years old and consumated the marriage when she was 9 (and he was 53 or 54) ref.

Daesh are Muslim, and they are carrying out their religion in fidelity with the example of its founder. Claims that Islam is a religion of peace are baseless tripe, Islam is a heretical sect of Judaism and is a religion stuck in the past undergoing a violent internecine war, a process that Christianity underwent in the 16th Century. It should be borne in mind that the main victims of Daesh are fellow Muslims.

So what is to be done?

We bear the burden of being civilised in the face of an uncivilised religion. As such we understand that in spite of their religion many Muslims are good people, we should also understand that the price of maintaining our civilisation can be our lives. To be free makes us vulnerable to the acts of monsters like Daesh and their sympathisers. However it would be for the best of we didn't allow any of the Syrian Muslims, or other Muslims, to gain sanctuary in Europe. The war is a war within their religion and if we allow them to flee then we strengthen their enemies, if they have to stay then perhaps they would be forced to fight with the same fervour as Daesh.

I will never vote for a political party like the UK Independence Party, mainly because I have no time for racists and closet racists. But I would happier if the Muslims of Europe would just peaceably sell up and move to Muslim countries, Europe is a mature and civilised culture with liberal democracies, Islam is inherently incompatible with such a culture.

This incompatibility was best (worst?) shown in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, committed by people who believe that criticism justifies murder. Once again they are following Mohammed's example as he had people murdered for songs and poetry ridiculing him (see WikiIslam's list). This sort of reaction, within a culture that ridicules all as a source of humour and criticism, makes one wonder whether the perpetrators were living on the right continent.

And in the spirit of causing great offence, this is a personal favourite of mine which always gives me a chuckle.

If you don't like it, don't look at it.

If it makes you want to kill me or the artist, leave Europe, because we will not be stopped.


Peter said...

...the core problem within Islam has deeper roots.
This is a statement that could only be made by someone blisteringly ignorant of the history of persecution, terrorism and religious wars worldwide.

I have no time for racists and closet racists.
You mean you have no time for other racists.

If you don't like it, don't look at it.
I shan't, not any of your future blog posts. Goodbye.

Chris Reynolds said...

Bye Peter,

And I am not a racist. Having a problem with a religion is not racist.

Ronan said...

"So much death, what can men do against such reckless hate?" The answer to that question, if you'll recall, was not "hide away in a walled enclave of the affluent and try to ignore the smoke as the rest of the world burns," but "ride out and meet it head on." You KNOW that. Your concern for the planetary threat of global warming, and your effort devoted to understanding the problem and sharing that understanding, show that you know that. So why aren't you applying that knowledge here?

We of the Western world are privileged; we are wealthy, our countries are (relatively) safe places to live, and although there is, of course, immense room for improvement, we have access to food, water, shelter, and education to a degree unimaginable to many of the world's people. We—you and I, and the average westerner—didn't earn these gifts, nor are we more deserving of them than the rest of the people of the world; we just happened to have the luck to be born into first-world nations. They are ours by an accident of history and geography, and to selfishly hoard our riches, coiling ourselves about them like a dragon around its pile of gold, is horribly wrong.

Look, as an atheist I'm no fan of Islam myself. I agree that the faith is undergoing a violent crisis at the moment, and has a lot to sort out within itself. But that violent crisis is happening to PEOPLE, people who need help. If we bar the gates to them and turn them away, we've only shown that we're unworthy of our own good fortune. Holding out a hand to someone in trouble is always a risky thing to do—but it's also always the right thing to do. I'm surprised you don't seem to be able to see that.

Forgive me for speaking so frankly, but...well. I think you're very, very wrong here, and I'd be remiss if I didn't try to help you see that.

Chris Reynolds said...


If we ride out and meet it head on then we feed the narrative of the west attacking Islam.

I was one of the million who marched in London against the war in Iraq, fearing a terrible result, yet I had never imagined how terrible the consequences of Bush and Blair's illegal war would turn out. The UK's role should be to provide aid to the refugees in situ, and support to their supporting nations (we should lobby the EU for things like reduced/removed import tarifs to aid economies), not to interfere militarily in a situation that 'we' are guilty of creating (well Blair was),

Climate change is very much in my thoughts. With the ongoing expansion of the Hadley cells much of north Africa and the Middle East will become less able to support those living there, the wave of refugees from those regions now is but a trickle compared to those who will likely want to come through this century. Is Europe to take them all? I am reminded of a thought experiment in survival: We're in a lifeboat, the ship has gone down fast and there are hundreds in the water. Emotionally we want to row back to the people in the water and get them all into the lifeboat, but if we do that the masses will sink our small boat trying to get in. So the only sensible option is to row away from them. It sounds harsh, but surviving often involves such hard decisions (and living with the emotional consequences thereof).

I often have watched both Al Jazeera and Russia Today to get the perspectives of other parts of the world on new events, and important stories that the BBC and Sky wrongly don't seem to consider important. Although I have largely stopped watching RT since the Ukraine situation, they've descended into farce, Al Jazeera remains a reasonable source with their own perspective, I watched it yesterday morning to get their angle on Paris. But what of the others watching Al Jazeera? 81% of those responding to an online poll on Al Jazeera's website consider that Islamic State is acting in the interests of Islam.

June 2015, after what Daesh are up to has become all too apparent.
A recent Al-Jazeera Arabic online poll shatters the dominant narrative that the Islamic State enjoys the support of only an isolated fraction of Arab Sunnis. Even considering the demonstrated online mobilisation of Islamic State supporters, it is sobering that 46,060 people (accounting for 81 percent of poll respondents) voted “Yes” in response to the question “Do you consider the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria in the interest of the region?”

The ultimate point to be made is that the world is facing the powerful rise of religious fascism no less dangerous than the Nazism of the 1930s, both in terms of violence and popularity. In the place of Nazism’s pseudoscientific justifications of its fascist imperial project, Islamism relies on religious teachings to justify its genocidal campaigns against the different Other. Like Nazism, Islamism openly celebrates war and the establishment of an empire on the mass graves of entire peoples.

And that article was Written by Saladdin Ahmed of Mardin Artuklu University in Turkey, not a white middle class man like me.

When 81% of such respondents say that Islamic State is an enemy of Islam, and when the vast majority of Muslims clamour for our military aid ('days of rage' because we have chosen not to get involved?), then we should ride out. Until that point we are only fuelling the fire. If we take millions of refugees from the Syrian/Iraqi mess into Europe, and for as long as we allow Jihadis back into Europe (they should have their passports and citizenship voided) we will be fuelling the situation and inviting massacres such as in Paris upon ourselves.

Anonymous said...

" Holding out a hand to someone in trouble is always a risky thing to do—but it's also always the right thing to do."

This is immature and naïve. If you open your door to two men standing on your stoop, both bloodied, disheveled and holding knives, as they claim the car broke down and they need some help, your naïve generosity is more likely to get you and your family beaten, raped and killed. We are constantly confronted with choices, most not so dramatically obvious, but the point is that support for your fellow man should not be overwhelmed with rash, suicidal risk. Good judgement is needed to give help as generously as you prudently can versus sacrifice your life, or the life of your family and community.

There are other ways to help those refugees without offering complete access to your home, your possessions and your way of life.

With 1 million refugees, if 5% are radicalized in the manner that is currently pervasive and apparent, then you have an army of 50,000 holy warriors that will never assimilate and will remain hellbent on destroying your society. That is NOT a prudent risk.

Your ancestors worked hard to create the society and standard of living that you enjoy and gave you the blueprint of a social, political, and economic structure to have a quality of life that is unequaled throughout history. You inherited that from people that wanted the best for you. If all cultures adopted those same rules of law and behavior, assimilating to the "western" approach that has proven so successful in expanding the quality of life of everyone in society, then the "third world" suffering that we see would go away. Conversely, if you remain stuck in medieval rules then society will crash back to subsistence.

Fortunately, in an assimilated group of citizens in a "western" culture, we do not have to confront the circumstance of kill-or-be-killed on any regular basis. But naïve thinking by a generous populace and government officials will change that. The fact is, these people do not think like you, are not likely to change and your respect for a different way of thinking will only open the door to the destruction that they intend.

Ronan said...

Hm. My earlier attempt at a response appears to have been eaten by internet gremlins, so here's number two:

Chris: You misunderstand me, although that's entirely my fault; the context of the quote I used was very misleading. When I said "ride out and meet them head on," I meant it in a general, rather than a military, sense. Hiding away won't solve anything, and is wrong for both practical and moral reasons. I've already expressed my views as to why it's morally wrong, but practically, it also doesn't work. Much as you might wish it were possible, you CAN'T "row the boat away." Do you seriously suppose that Europe will be able to hold back an influx of millions or tens of millions of desperate people, once things really begin to go south? They will come, and unless Europe is willing to resort to an outright border war of extermination, an atrocity worse than the Holocaust, there won't be any stopping them. Europe, and ultimately Russia as the climate warms further and the more southerly reaches of Europe itself become climatologically hostile, will be forced to absorb immense numbers of people. There's a thin window of opportunity, now, to do everything possible to try to ensure that the resulting culture clash is as mild as possible. I agree that the Muslim world has a serious problem; Islam is now embroiled in its version of Europe's religious wars of hundreds of years earlier. Unfortunately, we—as in humanity—just don't have the luxury of waiting a few centuries for the faith to sort itself out. Quite apart from the fact that it would be deeply wrong to abandon generations of people to that sort of suffering, their problems will soon spread to Europe, to the US, to Austra—okay, no, not Australia, given that it's well on its way to becoming even more impossibly hostile to life than it already is. You get my point, though. Just as with global warming, this is not a crisis we can just hope to hide away from. It's humanity's problem. Far better to begin now what we'll ultimately have to do anyway, and get some practice absorbing and assimilating large numbers of people, while the problem is still relatively tractable. Far better to try to help Islam out of its dark age in any way we can, so that the violence, irrationality, and ideological hatreds infecting many subsections of the faith will no longer be able to survive.

I don't know how to do that; I'm no social engineer. But it's a conversation that we need to have, and a problem we need to face. Nor is it necessarily as hopeless as might be supposed! We may, in fact, have a major advantage in that task, in that one of the huge props allowing this dysfunctional radicalism—the Middle East's access to the extreme riches and power provided by oil—is a resource that we desperately need to make worthless anyway. If we can successfully transition away from oil, the Middle East will lose that prop, and may be more susceptible to outside influence than it is at present. Change can be surprisingly rapid; as Max Planck said, "science advances one funeral at a time," and the same is true of social change. You only need a generation, if you act swiftly and wisely.

Ronan said...

Anonymous: Gliding lightly over the unsupported assertion (with flavors of victim-blaming) that the only thing holding back third-world countries is their pesky resistance to turning themselves into exact copies of Western nations (might colonialism and its aftereffects had a wee bit to do with the third world's current woes? Just a bit?), mercy and kindness do not imply weakness or foolishness. I stand staunchly by my statement that offering help to those in need is always right; your particular example is hardly relevant, because there there exists obvious and valid doubt as to whether the individuals in question are actually in need. But the Syrian refugees are fleeing a civil war! They're not faking it! I've no doubt there are some jihadis sneaking in with the hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees, but to condemn hundreds of thousands for fear of a few hundred is nothing but selfish cowardice. I would point out, by the by, that your own arguments belie the seriousness of the danger. If 5%—50,000 people—were radicalized psychopaths, don't you think things would be just a little bit more dire than they are at present? How many people, total, were involved in the Charlie Hebdo and Paris attacks? Did they even come from Syria? Where is this holy army you fear? It seems conspicuous by its absence.

I'll conclude by leaving you with some thoughts from a Muslim friend of my own, an Iraqi immigrant who came to the west to escape the violence engulfing his own nation. Forgive his English; it is, of course, not his first language. In response to my suggestion that change could be achieved, at least in part, by an effort to reach a new generation, he responded, "I agree with that, and that is what me and some of my friends believe is our responsibility, to try to plant new ideas in the minds of the new generations while we are here (through articles, videos, and other ways) and face to face, with other ways once we go back to our countries." I asked him what westerners like myself, without cultural ties to the Muslim world, could do to help. "I think that everyone can do a lot, just trying to separate the islam and muslims from terrorists will make sure that with time, less and less will join these terrorists once normal muslims will see real compassion and respect and understanding for their religion, way of life, and countries, hopefully."

Chris Reynolds said...


Thanks for clarifying. Obviously I did think you were referring to military action, you intent is now clear. However a more general engagement in the internecine war within Islam is still not without risks. The only action I can see that cannot be construed badly is the provision of aid to refugees. If we try to influence the war within Islam the salafists will present such involvement to the detriment of the 'moderates' we are backing. How do salafists view the UK government's efforts to put 'moderate' muslims forward?

Well here in the UK (I'm British) we can just pull up the draw bridge, perhaps that is unduly colouring my view regards Europe. However something has to be done, and there really is little public apetite here in the Uk for further mass immigration, I suspect a similar sentiment in much of Europe (except Germany?).

To be clear, the blaming of modern ills on immigrants is facile, the internet and mobile phones have had a far greater social effect. However there is an argument from the point of view of a socially conservative position that we simply don't want our society to be overwhelmed by people of another culture. We like our values and do not want to be turned into a culture alien to us, one that includes values we find abhorent - like murdering apostates and homosexuals. I am not ashamed to say that I am socially conservative in this sense.

The problem is this:
Take the time to examine that plot. By no means are all European Muslims in the lower left corner, some have adapted and assimilated while maintaining their religion. That's OK, while I am British my values differ somewhat from those of my neighbours. For starters I am an atheist, not a Christian. I don't drink - that makes me alien to many. But the answer to the question of why we have 'ghettos' of exclusive non assimilated communities is in part answered by the work of Inglehart & Welzel, summed up in that graphic above. Muslim values from nations like Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, are so far from those of the rest of the UK (and the upper right corner of Northern Protestant Europe), that without immigrants changing their values they are like oil and water. Racism plays a part in this, but racism is fuelled by people clinging to their cultures and being different. Only a total jerk takes exception to a bunch of black and white lads out on a pub crawl.

It is this massive difference in cultural outlook that Anon above was getting at. I shake my head in disbelief when people (generally well meaning left wingers) on discussion programmes who say we need to open dialogue with the Jihadis. It shows a complete lack of grasp. The position of the Jihadis is that we are not Muslim, so we are to be given a choice: Convert or die. By no means do all Muslims feel like this, but the war within Islam is over views such as this and it is by no means certain which side will win.

You mention a holocaust. I suspect that with (costly) border walls/fences and strong policing a 'rabble' of people seeking asylum can be held back. Far more concerning to me is that we face organised armies trying to drive north, especially if the Jihadis win the argument and do build a Caliphate across north Africa and the Middle East. It is such potential secondary consequences from AGW that convince me that the UK needs to uphold a full nuclear capability.

At least one of the Paris murderers had come into Europe amidst the Syrian refugees.

Ronan said...

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly that a blatant effort to manipulate the Islamic culture into being more Western is bound to fail. No one wants to be someone else's puppet, particularly not of a civilization that has repeatedly invaded and bombed your family and friends. What I had in mind was a more nuanced approach. Rather than blundering in and shouting "Salafism bad, rationalism and ijtihad good," we should try to understand what's feeding the narrative that the extremists use to recruit people to their side, and then figure out how to squelch that narrative. Send money to build hospitals, libraries, and universities; provide humanitarian aid; create a program of scholarships in western universities specifically for students from the Middle East, so that more people like the Muslim friend I mentioned can come to the West and learn what they can't learn in their home nations, and then carry that knowledge back with them; do whatever it takes to give more peaceful, cooperative, and rational strains of Islam a competitive edge over the radicals. I'm not talking about changing the minds of the jihadis; that's probably a lost cause. But we can try to crush their ability to recruit more people to their side. It's not a quick fix, and would probably take decades—but we HAVE decades, just barely, before the mass exodus from the equator begins.

Also, Islam is very much NOT incompatible with Western values. I can say that with great confidence; I'm an American myself, and Muslim-Americans are extremely well-integrated into our culture. Oh, sure, we get the occasional radicalized Muslim, but then we also get lots of radicalized Christians as well. Our nutcases are quite diverse. I don't think we can take any particular credit for that successful assimilation; I suspect it mostly happened accidentally. Nonetheless, it happened, and I don't see why it couldn't happen in Europe as well.

Oh, and also speaking as an American, I can promise you that walls and policing can't possibly hold back the flux of immigrants you'll be facing in the future. We've tried that along our Mexican border, with people far less desperate than those that you'll be facing, and it didn't work. In any case, the Mediterranean isn't stopping these immigrants; what makes you think that the far less hostile English Channel will prove more impermeable? The problems of the Middle East will become—HAVE become, starting with 9/11 and going from there—the problems of the West, and we can't shut them out. We have to help them, for their sakes and for ours.

Anonymous said...

My example was a clear, simple explanation of when your initial inclination to "holding out a hand to someone in trouble" is not necessarily prudent. A child will open the door and offer help without consideration of the possible risk or consequence. An adult will leave the door locked and call for police who are better trained to provide the needed service.

I've backpacked a lot through the years, and when I approached a clear running stream in my youth I thought nothing of taking a drink to quench my thirst. When I got older I learned about giardia and other potential contaminants but when it was just me, with only me at risk, I would often still take a drink. But, when I took my sons on those backpacking trips with their friends, I would never let them drink from the stream without filtering or treating the water. The absolute risk was still quite small, but I was trusted to be responsible for the care of the group and such a risk was too great. If that make me a selfish coward, then I am one, but I would not risk the safety of others I care for to recklessly drink from a stream that was potentially contaminated, when we had the means to do it safely with a little extra effort.

Most of the refugees overwhelming Europe are not from Syria. Reportedly, 80% are able bodied young men 18 to 30 years old.

My 5% figure was a simple swag to demonstrate that a large group of radicalized people can be hidden in the swarm of immigrants invading Europe. The actual numbers could be more or less, no one knows.

You seem to discount the presence of such an army. But, the soldiers carrying the spear are only a small part of any army. Support, supplies, transportation, logistics, intelligence, command....lots of people are needed to conduct such an operation. And you seem to imply that with those 10 or 12 people involved in the Charlie Hebdo and Paris operations, it's all done. When it's really just started, they're in the house and its too late to close the door.

I never suggested that the Syrian people should not be helped or that helping people in need is inappropriate. But the help should not be reckless and place 100 of millions of innocents at risk to help thousands, or hundreds of thousands. We have the means, help them in Syria.

If you don't have a means to properly filter the stream, it's not a prudent risk to give it over to the people you love and say drink.

Ronan said...

I suppose we just assign different weights to prudence vs. charity. I think you're being seriously paranoid, and that the risks of attacks like Charlie Hebdo and recent murders wouldn't go down to any significant degree were less kindness offered to the refugees; the terrorists would still find their way in, one way or another. They don't need to introduce many people to successfully carry out strikes like this, after all. You, obviously, consider me to have let my heart get the better of my head. Given that, as far as I can tell, we each have access to the same body of facts and set of information, I rather suspect that this is a philosophical disagreement that isn't going to be concluded one way to or another by argumentation. I can only hope that you become a bit braver and more generous--while you, I suppose, can only hope that I staunch my bleeding heart and take off my rose-tinted glasses.

Anonymous said...

The human brain takes many decades to develop and the reckless behaviors of teenagers has been traced to not just the lack of experiences, but to the biologically underdeveloped ability to assess consequences and risk. It's the last big step. It's part of the divide between the idealism of youth and the pragmatic wisdom of age. I see your position as a reflection of that youthful idealism.

I think Churchill put that growth in its political context:
If you are not a liberal when you are a youth, then you have no heart;
if you are not a conservative as an adult, then you have no brain.

Oh, by the by, your diagram of nested crescents suggests you self identify with the immigrants in a way that I do not.

Chris Reynolds said...

Ronan, Anon,

I don't mean to quash discussion, but I agree with Ronan that further discussion isn't likely to change minds we really are dealing with different basic views.

I would like to stress that my position (and I suspect that of Anon - say if I misconstrue) is that our support for the refugees should be done at arms length.

My opening post was intemperate and angry, something I am not apologising for - the events in Paris have left me furious, a state unusual to me which I do not like. However, having discussed the events in Paris with various friends and work colleagues over the intervening time I find I am in the _middle_ of a rapidly widening gulf here in the UK.

Ronan said...

Out of curiosity, Chris, what is the position on the other side of that gulf, and how does it differ from your own? Please understand I mean no attack here; it's just that, from my persoective, your position already seems fairly far along at one extreme, just as, perhaps, my position is (though, of course, not as far as it could be. As I've stated, and as the Muslim friend of mine concurs, Islam really is facing a very difficult time now, philosophically, theologically, and culturally, and there's a poison within the faith that needs to be dealt with. I differ there with those who wish to divorce attacks like these from Islam entirely).

Anonymous: Heh. All I can do us quote Max Planck once more: "Science advances one funeral at a time," with a different interpretation this time. Sometimes the young, with their fresher perspective and ability to incorporate new perspectives, really ARE right. Although, of course, sometimes they're wrong, as well.

Oh, and concerning my avatar...Well. (A.) It could be an outright crescent and star, and it would have no bearing on the validity of my argument, which should be evaluated based on its merits alone, and (B.) It has not the slightest thing to do with Islam. It's a stylized diagram of the orbits of the planets and stars within a personal science fiction project of mine, with the outer circle representing the orbit of a gas giant in the system, the intersection of the two curved arcs branching out of the circle indicating the position of the life-bearing world within the system, and the central, tiny circle indicating the orbits of a pair of binary suns. The rest of the lines indicate orbital paths taken by tne native intelligences of the life-bearing world as they explore their system. Just, y'know, for the record.

dreesen said...

Well said, Chris. I could not have put it better myself

Chris Reynolds said...


Thanks mate.


To the other side of me from you are the people who have always detested Muslims and use terms like 'Paki' and 'Wog', terms I do not use. How many of those resolved to inform themselves before forming opinion? How many of them have even attempted to read the Qu'ran - I managed 1/3 of it last year before giving up, it's worse than the Bible, garbage.

But it is worth noting that a friend who votes Labour (Left wing) shares almost exactly the same opinion as me, it is also worth noting that the spread of those who doubt Islam is compatible with Britain is from Managing Directors to the 'shop floor'. All of this can be appreciated from the YouGov poll that found that half of voters in the UK consider that Islam is not compatible with British Values (nebulous though that term is).
From that poll, all I have done as a right winger is moved over the last few years into the 68% of Tory voters who consider that Islam and Britain are not compatible.

george_formerly_of _the jungle said...


You have responded exactly as the terrorists wanted you to respond. You are casting all believers in Islam in with the terrorists. When you do this they win.

Chris Reynolds said...

No George you are wrong,

About two years ago I started to admit to my grave concerns about Islam. On and off I started looking into it to form an opinion, including reading much of the Qu'ran. Islamic State are acting in line with the example and teaching of Mohammed, in that sense they are 'good and true Muslims'. My grave concerns are founded, Islam itself contains the core that drives the violent Jihadist salafism.

You need to pay attention to the part where I say that many* Muslims are good people despite the foundation of their religion. Many - i.e. not a minority. But you need to consider that a BBC survey found that 1/4 or British Muslims felt sympathy with the motivations behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and that an Al Jazeera online poll (June 2015 posted in Arabic) found that 81% of respondents agreed with the statement “Do you consider the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria in the interest of the region?”

If you think that in their massacres and miscellaneous obsecenities that the Jihadis are trying to drive a wedge between non Muslims and Muslims you seriously don't get where they are coming from. They offer the world a choice, join their interpretation of Islam or be put to death. They may posture, but that is the core of their belief.

Ronan said...

I think you're mistaking what they do for what they want, Chris. As I understand it, the core of Daesh's ideology is a niche apocalyptic interpretation of Islam, and the goal and purpose of their efforts, aside from establishing a new caliphate, is to usher in the end of the world with a grand battle in Dabiq.* To that end, they're doing their level best to antagonize the West as much as possible, and—as George said—to drive a wedge between Western nations and their Muslim citizens, in order to improve their ability to recruit disaffected Muslims to their cause.

You're also, I think, making a huge (albeit perfectly understandable and, on the surface, eminently reasonable) mistake in trying to understand Islam by going to the Quran. The book's contents influence and shape Muslims' behavior, yes, but depending on the interpretations thereof one can have wildly different outcomes (this is particularly true of Islam, given the immense importance of precedent and hadiths in defining the faith). Heck, just look at the Old Testament/Tanakh; you'd be hard-pressed to find a holy text more jam-packed with murder, genocide, war crimes, slaughter, and crimes against humanity (both by YHWH and by other humans), and yet the group of people to whom that text is most sacred—Jews—are by and large an extraordinary peaceful, scholarly, and often downright secular bunch. I'll reiterate, I agree that Islam has problems at present, as does the Muslim friend I mentioned—but trying to cram the faith into the pressure cooker of the Middle East is not going to make things better. Hope for Islam and the world lies in cultivating the more peaceful interpretations of the religion, and that's simply not going to happen if the doors to Western societies are slammed in the face of Muslim immigrants fleeing the genocidal lunacy of Daesh and other extremists.

Hiding won't work. The world's too small, and it'll only get smaller. Sooner or later the first world will have to face the third world, and what happens when it does will depend on how much it's done to help those less fortunate than itself, and cultivate ideologies that maximize the likelihood of survival of all concerned. The Middle East and Africa will come to Europe; Central America (and quite possibly South America, in time) will come to North America; Indonesia and India will come to China. This century could well see the largest migration of humans in recorded history, and no walls or police forces are going to be adequate to stop it.

*This is, to put it mildly, not one of the tenets of mainstream Islam.

Chris Reynolds said...


The Old Testament? I was raised a Catholic but have long since walked away from such superstitious mumbo jumbo. However I do recall that Christ said his was a new message that overwrote the OT. No Christian should refer to the OT, real Christians follow Christ (The New Testament), an opinion a nun confirmed when I voiced it in Religious Education lesson debate at school. As for the Jews - Sorry, but I have lost interest due to their appalling treatment of the Palestinians.

I cannot add anything to what I have said about Islam and what I see as dangers at the core of that religion. Obviously as an atheist I see all religion as tedious superstition, but if people want to believe that's fine by me, just don't involve me. Most religions don't challenge that by having adherents that murder people who are just out having a good time on a Friday night after a hard week's work. I would imagine that Daesh have dealt a further blow to their popularity in the Muslim world. But Daesh are supported by the texts of the Qu'ran and the Haddiths, as I have explained above.

You've already said your piece about retreating from the world, but I am not proposing retreating from the world. As for the rest of the world... what of EuraAsia/Asia, The Antipodes, and the Americas? If we 'take our ball out of the game' with the Islamic nations there are still a lot of people out their to share culture with and trade with. 1.6bn people are Muslim, that means 5.4bn are not, the loss is not ours.

Chris Reynolds said...


A final sidenote.

In only verse 193 of the Qu'ran...

193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)

Surely this means fight all who do not worship Allah?

Luckily I remembered a phrase:

Qu'ran Surah 8, Shakir,
SHAKIR: Say to those who disbelieve, if they desist, that which is past shall be forgiven to them; and if they return, then what happened to the ancients has already passed.
SHAKIR: And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do.

Surely by 'desist' the only meaning from these paragraphs can be 'desist from disbelief'?

This interpretation is borne out by Yusufali:

Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a warning for them).
And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.

Let's stay with Yusufali for verse 61 of Surah 8.
But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things).

It galls me to think of Paris going unpunished, but their are ample bad deeds that go unpunished, however grave what is one more? What if the West simply refused to engage in this war within Islam and withdrew totally? To be fair to the Qu'ran it provides many such appeals to not pursuing war (IIRC), but does this over-ride 008/38 & 39? It might in the minds of many Muslims.

But to disengage militarily means extensive disengagement. Trade? Yes. Aid to refugees? Yes, but return those seeking asylum. More than trade? No.

Feel free to make a closing reply, the issue bores me.

Ronan said...

My point was that no matter how much you may wish it, you can't hide from the Muslim world; it can't just be locked away and ignored, as you seem to think is possible. That mess is not going to stay tidily cooped up in the Middle East; it'll overflow to the north, just as, in fact, it's doing now, whether the West decides to interfere in the Middle East or not. That choice isn't up to us. Both for humanitarian and practical reasons, the Muslim world's problems are the world's problems, and must be faced by the world.

... But I'm repeating myself, evidently to no effect. I'll desist, then.

Anonymous said...

I admire your work on the Arctic, however, the BBC poll is full of contradiction when you read that:
• Almost all Muslims living in Britain feel a loyalty to the country (95%). Just 6% say they feel a disloyalty.
• Nine in ten (93%) British Muslims believe that Muslims in Britain should always obey British laws.

• One in four (27%) British Muslims say they have some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
• However, two thirds (68%) say acts of violence against those who publish images of the Prophet can never be justified while a quarter (24%) disagree.

Having sympathy is not exactly the same thing as fully supporting, especially when 95% feel a loyalty to the country and 93% believe that muslim should always obey British law. I am sure you will understand these subtleties as a scientist.
In France just a few days after the bombing the muslim federation unequivocally and very strongly condemned the Friday night attack and reaffirm its support to the French republic and French values,and the following Friday, this was said by every imam in every French mosque. So yes effectively you have the Qursn, which is by the way extremely difficult to interpret as you have opposite opinions on the same subject, and the religion which is very peaceful for an overwhelming majority of the muslims. You do have a very wide spectrum in the way the religion is abided by between Senegal, Mali, Morocco,Tunisia,Turkey,Indonesia, and the more conservative and rather extrême are in fact in Saoudi Arabia and other peripherial countries which represent less than a few percentage of the muslim population. Islamic state is of course a new fascism, if the BBC would do the poll after Paris attack, the percentage of "some sympathy for" would probably drop to a very Small percentage or even 0 as it is now the case within the French muslim population.
The Yazidi population is now victim of Islamist State terrible genocide and atrocities. But also we should mention that the Yazidis have been able to live peacefully untill now since the arrival of the muslim religion 1400 years ago, while at the same time in Europe the Christian religion expelled banned and committed genocide against almost all religious minority. Thanksfully this was over with the coming up of the "siecle des lumieres" during the 18th century. The Nazi did even worse only 75 years ago and i don't think anybody would say that they were representative of the Christian faith, despite that at that time many Christians supporting them. as you mentioned Daesh killed far more Muslims than none Muslims. One or 2 weeks before Paris there was a terrible terrorist attack in Bagdad, and just 2 days before Paris there was one of the worst ever terrorist attack in Beyrouth (by the way, the multiethnic and multi religious Lebanon has welcomed more than a million refugees for a population of 4 millions when we bicker for less than a million out of 550 million in the European Union) that the Western media completely ignored. The week after there was an attack in hotel in Bamako perpetrated by an ally of Daesh.
I am an agnostic from a Christian family, I have lived in big cities in Europe with significant Muslim population, meeting quite a few of them, I cannot agree with your judgement on Muslim people.
The young French who perpetrated the atrocities mainly come from none practicing Muslim families, most of the time who are not from Muslim ghetto estate in the suburb. A significant proportion of young French going to Syria are from very secular and well integrated Muslim families, which now are absolutely desperate of what their son perpetrated. There are also a high number of converted Muslim from non Muslim families which enrolled, there even have been case of young from bhudists and Jewish families which have been enrolled to Syria.

Chris Reynolds said...

Hi Anon,

Don't get me onto Christianity, it has been dragged kicking and screaming into the moderate form we see today, and this was largely due to the Enlightenment. As an atheist I have little time for Christianity.

Yes I was aware of the subtleties within the BBC poll, and that also applies to the polling by the Pew Centre. And Yes many Muslims in more secular countries have made the transition from the lower left corner towards the right hand side of the Inglehart graph.

However, at its core and with the example of the behaviour of the prophet Mohammed, Islam contains the inspiration for the barbarity we see in recent years. I am not claiming that Sam Harris would sanction my admittedly intemperate outburst in the above post. However Sam Harris has eloquently outlined the problem with Islam, Islam is not a religion of peace, its adherents who are peace loving are such in spite of their faith, not because of it.

As for the angry and intemperate nature of the post above: I do not apologise. I rarely get angry, but the atrocity in Paris, along with a build up of anger about the suicide bombings and other atrocities before, rightly demands visceral anger.

In closing, it is worth noting that last week there was a massive march of Shia Muslims in London (the regular Arbaen procession), they protested against the violence being done in the name of their religion. It was largely ignored by the mainstream media in the UK.