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Muslims bomb, burn, shoot and threaten for being called "violent"

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Work with me here. Am I understanding this correctly?

Pope Benedict gives a speech in his native Germany in which he states that "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," and in which he 'quoted from a 14th- and 15th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus in his speech yesterday."

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.' "

"The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable," Benedict said.

"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul," he said.

As may be expected, this inflames the fabled "Muslim street" (but what doesn't these days?). Muslims clerics and leaders of Islamic nation demanded apologies from the Pope. Fair enough. But then they loosed their people into the streets to riot. Oh, please face the fact that in almost every Muslim country in the world, no one riots or even demonstrates without prior government approval or instigation. There are exceptions, such as (maybe) Turkey, but they are very few.

What are they protesting? Why, the Pope's apparent accusation that Islam is a violent religion. How goes the protests? Well:

The Times Online reports:

AN ITALIAN nun was killed by gunmen at a children’s hospital in Somalia yesterday in an apparent revenge attack for the Pope’s speech about Islam last week. Sister Leonella Sgorbati, 65, left, was shot four times in the back by two men at the entrance to the hospital in the capital, Mogadishu. Her bodyguard was also killed.

And a "radical Muslim group" (I'm beginning to wonder whether there is any other kind),

... threatened a suicide attack on the Vatican yesterday even as the Holy See said Pope Benedict regretted that some Muslims were offended by his comments about the role of violence in the spread of Islam.

And,

Two churches were set on fire in the West Bank on Sunday, a day after Muslims hurled firebombs and fired guns at four other West Bank churches and one in the Gaza Strip to protest the pope's comments.

Australia's Daily Telegraph reports as well:

** A hardline Somalian cleric called on Muslims to "hunt down" and kill the Pope.

** A bomb exploded in a church in Iraq... .

The paper also says the obvious:

THE hardline Muslims who took to burning churches this weekend in the wake of Pope Benedict's remarks supposedly linking Islam to violence seem to have proved his point.

Now, to be "fair and balanced," I should also point out that some Muslim leaders are calling for calm and cautioning about taking the Pope's commentary as indicative of all Christians' beliefs.

The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said the Islamic political movement's relations with Christians should remain "good, civilized and cooperative."

"While anger over the pope's remarks was necessary, it shouldn't last for long because while he is the head of the Catholic church in the world, many Europeans are not following it. So what he said won't influence them," Mohammed Mahdi Akef said.

Mohammed Habash, a legislator and head of the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus, Syria, cautioned against sectarian animosities and urged both Muslims and Christians to find ways to avoid conflicts.

"We understand the reasons for the (Muslim) anger, but we do not call for that and instead we call for calm and dialogue," Habash said.

Good idea that. But we also need to understand that violence does not occupy the same theological space in Christianity as it does in Islam. Christianity has historically had to justify the use of violence even for just reasons, such as the maintenance of public order, punishment of criminals or making war. Violence just does not have a natural place inside the world view of the New Testament. It can be justified, but only uneasily, with great caution and no little difficulty. The times in history when Christian societies or Christian armies embraced violence as a means of propagating the faith are not held as exemplars today.

But in Islam, violence's theological space is not uncomfortable at all. It is a natural fit. Conversion at the point of the sword was not a regrettably necessary means to expanding the caliphate because there was no other way, it was an inherently praiseworthy, indeed, desirable, means. And this is mainstream Muslim history, not "radical." Warfare has never been denied by the main streams of Muslim theology to be other than an acceptable (though not always desirable) way to propagate their religion. If I am wrong, someone please provide cites to the contrary in a comment.

Pope Benedict in his speech reiterated what Catholics have said for a long time: there is no justification for the use of violence in the practice of religion. That part seems to have gone over the heads of the Muslims radicals (surprise) and most Muslim leaders. When prominent Sunni and Shia clerics around the world issue blanket condemnations of violence qua violence (not just terrorism) in the practice of Islam, then I'll be more sympathetic to their protests.

All that being said, Pope Benedict's brief aside in his speech was ill advised. Jules Crittenden explains why.

More: "Against the Grain" has an excellent, continuing roundup. Examples:

Teófilo de Jesús (Vivificat) wonders where was the enlightened voice of Muslim protest when Ayman al Zawahiri and Adam Gadahn issued an "invitation to Islam", denigrating the Christian faith as a "hollow shell of a religion, whose followers cling to an empty faith and a false conviction of their inevitable salvation"? [Maryland-based] Syrian blogger Ammar Abdulhamid gets it:

Have all leaders, religious and political, in the so-called Muslim World, become illiterate all of a sudden? Or are they intent on using every little opportunity that presents itself to prove in deed what they continue to deny in words, namely: that Islamic civilization and culture are dead, and that Muslims are adamant on continuing their head-long descent into barbarity?

See also this interview with emeritus theologian Adel-Theodore Khoury (Frankfurter Allgemeine Sept. 17, 2006), whose book Pope Benedict cited in his Regensburg lecture.

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Tracked: September 19, 2006 5:07 AM
Islam, Violence And The Pope from The Moderate Voice
Excerpt: Donald Sensing, a United Methodist pastor and retired Army officer, always writes some of the most thought-provoking material on the Internet. Whether you agree with him on an issue or not, he offers solid food-for-thought (not regurgitations of what h...

26 Comments

The muslim question is a 16-puzzle. Looks like we're cycling around 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 now. Still can't figure out what the picture is...

"Work with me here. Am I understanding this correctly?"

Don't strain your brain there Donny m'boy. I voted for Gore in 2000. Times change, people change (even flaming libs like me). But not Islam.

Was easier for me to step to the center, then to the right. Than stand among the blind.

Elmo/Anechoic Room

I cant say i'm surprised, but what gets me isn't the rioters on the streets so much as the apologists in the West, particularly the fellow Muslim ones. Where are the famous moderate Muslims? Why do we so seldom hear them distancing themselves and denouncing the radicals? This is a glaring problem.

If a Christian bombs an abortion clinic, we expect every Christian leader to loudly denounce the action at every turn. Expect heck, we demand it. The moderate Muslims on the other hand are constantly allowed the "it was wrong, BUT" defense. There is something engrained in the movement that seems to disallow turning on a Muslim brother, even when they are horribly in the wrong. I dont know how we can keep on putting up with that.

I know that I personally, and I suspect much of our country feels the same way, am getting to the Samuel L Jackson point with these people 'I have had it with these &*$%@*@&#*%# snakes!'

Andrew G. Bostom has a very good discussion on these issues in The Pope, Jihad, and Dialogue which mentions four points for dialogue:

Recently, . . . the Archbishop of Sydney, posed four salient questions for his erstwhile Muslim interlocutors wishing to engage in meaningful interfaith dialogue:

1) Do they believe that the peaceful suras of the Koran are abrogated by the verses of the sword?

2) Is the program of military expansion (100 years after Muhammad’s death Muslim armies reached Spain and India) to be resumed when possible?

3) Do they believe that democratic majorities of Muslims in Europe would impose Shari’a (Islamic religious) law?

4) Can we discuss Islamic history —- even the hermeneutical problems around the origins of the Koran —- without threats of violence?

Islam has no pope, but a number of Muslim leaders have stuck their neck out as if they speak for all Muslims in condemning the Pope. It would be an interesting interfaith dialogue if the Vatican would pose these questions to the provocateurs with a similar opportunity to direct questions to the Pope.

All that being said, Pope Benedict's brief aside in his speech was ill advised. Jules Crittenden explains why.

Is it really? I think Jules has some idea of where we need to go, but then runs it through some of the same old worn-out real-poltick of the last 30 years to get an answer that is 180 degrees wrong.

Jules says we should censor ourselves to avoid offending muslims so that: That is because we would like those moderate elements, those which are mainly interested in getting up each morning, opening the shop, and raising their children with hopes of a brighter future, to stay that way.

Here is the fundamental flaw in his reasoning, IMNSHO. The moderates radicalize because they feel that they can do so safely. That supporting, or even becomming, radicals will have no risk to either they or their families "in getting up each morning, opening the shop, and raising their children with hopes of a brighter future." Since we're so afraid to offend them, much less take them to task, there is no risk for them to radicalize, however there are rewards: increase in societal power and prestige, spread of their religion, and a psycological benefit of feeling brave by poking the chained wild animal.

This does not advance anyone’s understanding of our differences, nor in anyway does it help resolve our problems. It just gets them riled, and gives them another excuse. It confirms for them everything they believe.

This is perhaps the most incomprehensible aspect of PCness for me. We need to advance understanding by pretending differences don't exist because those differences might offend somebody. So instead of letting the differences out into the light so we may deal with them like adults, we hide them in the dark until they come boiling out and cause more pain.

We are engaged aggressively in changing their thinking by other means. By making it clear we will not tolerate violence or incitements to violence. By killing those who would kill us.

Here he almost gets it. We don't need to target the muslim world as a whole, just the radicalized elements. They become the warning to the moderates that becomming radicalized is not safe. Unfortunately he doesn't bring this to the logical conclusion and condemn those who are inciting the violence in the muslim world, instead focusing on one of the victims whose words were taken out of context. Far easier to blame the victim than the trouble makers.

Frivolous incitements, particularly from parties that by and large have chosen to sit on the sidelines of the cause of freedom we’ve been engaged in the past five years, do not help.

Perhaps if you want to encourage people to get off the sidelines, then you should offer encouragement and support rather than condemnation.

StargazerA5

PD --

You've mentioned abrogation a couple of times that I've seen. It's a concept about which I'm curious, and know little.

My understanding about the Koran is that Muslims assert it was delivered by angel to Mohammed, who recited it aloud in Arabic in a perfect form. I've always understood that to be one of Islam's core assertions.

How, then, can one verse abrogate another? Why would an eternal and all-knowing God direct an angel to deliver a perfect message, parts of which were redacted in progress? Why would God have second thoughts? With other sacred texts, one can say that this or that prophet/author/translator screwed up or misunderstood; but I have always understood that Islam asserts that the Koran is really the actual word from God. How can a Muslim theologian make the assertion that verses abrogate each other without giving rise to these problems?

Im starting to think we've been asking the wrong question. Is Islam compatible with democracy? Muslims in the vast majority believe it is, and that seems likely. But I think we have taken that answer and made a lot of assumptions about other freedoms that we hold to be synonimous with democracy.

Is Islam compatible with freedom of speech? I think we better start asking that question, and i think the answers may surprise us.

Grim:
How, then, can one verse abrogate another? Why would an eternal and all-knowing God direct an angel to deliver a perfect message, parts of which were redacted in progress? Why would God have second thoughts?

According to Muslims he had third thoughts. Islam is the "third revelation" of God, replacing Christianity, which in turn replaced Judaism. The earlier revelations were as much the word of God as Islam is, but are now abrogated by Allah 3.0. So the idea of Allah revising his message to man is intrinsic to Islam.

There's nothing illogical about this. Christians and Jews likewise believe that God's relationship to man has changed over historical time.

It's strange to me that so many secular apologists of Islam insist on a kind of Koranic fundamentalism, and pretend that all "true" Muslims believe that the Koran is the complete word of Allah, period. They ignore the hadiths, which are full of all kinds of problematic stuff. They extra-double-ignore the stuff that pours out of the mosques every Friday. They pretend that selective amateur theology can define the problem out of existence.

Moderate Islamic theology, amateur or otherwise, is utterly impotent in the face of the political phenomenon of Islamism. You can quote and counter-quote sura and hadith until the day they chop your head off, it is all completely useless. It means exactly nothing. You might as well quote Emily Dickinson at them.

All appeals to the past glory of Islamic civilization, long since dead and buried, is likewise pointless.

Is Islam compatible with freedom of speech? I think we better start asking that question, and i think the answers may surprise us.

A very good point indeed, but lets not end there. Is it compatible with the notion of religious freedom? How about the concept of equal protection before the law? We in the West make the logical flaw of equating democracy with free societies. This is not always the case. Democracy is nothing more than a mechanism for institutionalizing the dominant culture. When the dominant culture sucks, as in my opinion Islamic cultures do, then no amount of democracy will make it any better.

The real irony: Despite the fact that we Christians are uncomfortable in the use of violence while Muslims are very comfortable with it, we are very very good at war while they are absolutely terrible at it.

Arab armies are working on a centuries long losing streak.

a "radical Muslim group" (I'm beginning to wonder whether there is any other kind)

I've said before that a muslim would have to be pretty radical to be a moderate. The problem is that we persist in (unconciously) asserting that tolerance is moderate while violence is radical. The imam preaching violence can find lots of support in the Qu'ran. It's the imam preaching tolerance and equality that is calling for the inerrant word of God to be read in a manner contrary to the clear meaning of His words.

Which one is truly the radical?

Grim, there are passages in the Koran that appear inconsistent and contradictory. I don't have access to my books, but some of the better known examples are rules of inheritance and certain punishments -- a lot of it appears to be boring stuff. The Koran says:

Nothing of our revelation (even a single verse) do we abrogate or cause be forgotten, but we bring (in place) one better or the like thereof.

(Q 2:106)

So the Koran is not imperfect, it expressly contemplates better verses replacing other verses. It also appears to contemplate that Allah might make the Prophet forget certain verses for a time, explaining some otherwise confusing events.

While the Koran is eternal and uncreated, substitution contemplates a chronological series of events in which an older, a lesser verse is replaced by a better verse, not the other way around.

I take Juan Cole at his word that the Pope improperly attributed certain verses to the Mecca period, which took place in the Medinan period. But the sequence of the verses is far more important than this geographical detail, though it is generally true that the later verses are more militant and less tolerant.

Glen is exactly right. I've learned to never, ever, under any circumstance try to engage a believer in an idealogical debate on their turf unless you are either a member of the faith seeking clarification or an absolute expert- and even then you are liable just to be frustrated. No matter how entirely logical and valid your points are, they will likely count for absolutely nothing.

Think of it this way: try going to the Vatican and asking them how they have the nuts to have a Vatican Bank when one of the few times in all the new testament that Jesus got angry was when he found the money changers in the temple. Clear cut hypocracy right? Sure, try having that 'debate'. Not to pick on Catholicism, but its just the most relevant and universally known example. Sometimes I think organized religion is just mans way of twisting theology into what they want it to mean for their own benefit. Peace means war. Charity means golden candleabras suplicants might get the gift of glancing at once a year. Forget about engageing Islam on the theological level. That is for the moderates in Islam to do. Our job is to make them do it. Somehow.

I'm aware of the hadiths, Glen, but they weren't meant to have been delivered by angel in a perfect form (nor, as I understand it, were the earlier prophets given such clear instruction according to Islam). The claims made for the Koran's authenticity (in the original Arabic) as The Word of God surpass even the most Fundamentalist Baptist's claims for the Bible. For the Fundamentalist, it's always possible that people mistranslated something from the Aramaic or whatever. It's the clerk's fault! Not so with the Koran, as I have understood it.

For other (or earlier) religions, it is therefore fine if there's some contradiction. I can see how they'd be fine with contradiction in the hadiths. It's just not clear how you could accept that the Koran contradicted itself. I'm just wondering how "abrogation" is explained by the Islamic scholars themselves -- it doesn't make sense.

What would make sense is saying that the contradiction wasn't real -- that it was a puzzle for men to unravel, say. I don't see how you can hold both that God took the trouble to give us the rules in perfect form, and also that they contradict each other.

As for other religions' beliefs about their relationship with God changing over time, certainly that's true. But we're talking about a fundamental change in the rules governing mankind in a very short span of time -- with the new rule being good for eternity. It's as if God waited the whole of human history to deliver a message to us; and then gave it to us in a perfect form that would guide us forever; and then changed his mind next Tuesday.

I'm not claiming to be a scholar, amateur or otherwise, on the point. I just wonder what the scholars say about it -- it seems like an obviously problematic point of theology for them to argue. How do they defend it?

I think those attacks frm other countries are just because they are jealous that United states is so strong, and those Muslims or Islams also misunderstanded what their religion ask them to do, cause I think none of the religion will tell their religious to do wong things but good things such as helping the other or forgiving the other.
But the violents created by the American in United States are because the quality of the American become lower and that's also a reason why our country is going down. I realized that modern American espacially kids think that shooting people or dealing or maybe acting gangster is cool. Also, the immigrants cause problems too! Cause they usaully from poor countries so they can't get that much educations. I think the government should do more about education and controlling the coming of the immigrants. because we are still the best country in the world. And I really don't want to see this country go down and let countries like China to catch up or even get better than us.
And I am sure that that will be a shamed of American, those people from middle east and Asia are going to laugh at us too.
I hope this will get people's attention.

"How, then, can one verse abrogate another? Why would an eternal and all-knowing God direct an angel to deliver a perfect message, parts of which were redacted in progress? Why would God have second thoughts? With other sacred texts, one can say that this or that prophet/author/translator screwed up or misunderstood; but I have always understood that Islam asserts that the Koran is really the actual word from God. How can a Muslim theologian make the assertion that verses abrogate each other without giving rise to these problems?"

To justify this, the Muslims use a variation on something which is also found in Christian Doctrine - special dispensation. Both Christians and Moslims believe that God is so merciful that as an act of mercy he is willing to bend the standards that he holds for himself to accomodate the inherent frailty of mankind. So, for example, in Christianity it is believed that God abhors polygamy, but that at an earlier point in man's development - as an act of mercy - he made a special dispensation allowing polygamy (presumably to prevent the evil of a woman being unable to find a mate because all the eliglible unmarried men had died) until such time as man grew in sufficient understanding (and grace abounded) that polygamy was no longer necessary.

Moslim scholars justify the doctrine of abrogation through similar logic. Allah gives a series of increasingly complete commands out of mercy, giving the easier (but perhaps harder to understand) and more merciful commands last, while the easier to understand but less merciful commands come latter. For example, there is a two part passage in which Allah promises that followers of Islam will be able to overcome odds of 10:1 in battle, but then in the next sentence he relents and urges them only to overcome odds of 2:1. As the scholars see it, this is interpreted as a demand for a less degree of faith on the part of his followers. Allah could - and would - grant a victory over 10:1 odds, but he mercifully he demands a less difficult act of faith from them. In this case, the passages are separated by a minimum ammount of time, but the same logic is believed to apply when the ammount of time between the verse and the verse abbrogating it is larger.

It seems to me that if you believe (a) that there is an Islamic terrorist threat and (b) you want to defeat this threat with as few military casualties are possible, you have to be willing to wade into the battle of ideas with some notion of the terminology of Islam.

Ceding the terrain to the Juan Cole's of the world to say "there is no compulsion in Islam" while we watch people blowing themselves up, is just about wasting time for total war.

It seems to me that the questions asked by the Archbishop of Sydney are close to the right ones. Its not for non-Muslims to answer them. Its not for non-Muslims to tell Muslims what they should think. There are self-professed Muslims killing non-Muslims while citing the verse of the sword. Are they right? Are they wrong? What should that verse mean to Muslims today?

Mark: Where are the famous moderate Muslims? Why do we so seldom hear them distancing themselves and denouncing the radicals? This is a glaring problem.

A few weeks ago I caught a bit on the Bill O'Reily radio show. Someone was substituting for Bill (otherwise I would have turned it) and this guy was laughing about all the faxes and emails his news organization had gotten from pro-polygamy groups who wanted to come on the air to talk about how Warren Steed Jeffs did not reflect the true values of polygamy. He was laughing and suggested that news organizations always get this kind of stuff.

Which raised a couple questions in my mind?

1. Do American Muslims seek to get invited on the television to make similar pleas? I rarely see them. Are American Muslims so afraid of the attention or afraid to even suggest criticism of a fellow Muslim that they are not engaged in basic message control?

2. Do American networks brush off such requests? Are moderates boring? Is the subject of religion too uncomfortable?

I agree, this is a glaring problem.

Theology is beside the point here: the guy with the biggest stick determines what religion says. Moslem societies are totalitarian so it's clear who the holder of the stick is. "Protests" from those quarters are a joke: everyday, institutionalized brutality is somehow never protested (of course, the populace is trained to be mindful of the guy with the stick; the slow-to-learn are bound to collect the Darwin award, and rather sooner than later); those protests that do erupt -- usually over some nonsense but politically useful to the guy with the stick there -- are obviously staged. And what's the basis? Is there any denying that politically, Islamic culture has been a violent one? Ask any Moslem outside of the borders of Saudi Arabia -- Africa, rest of the Middle East, Turkey, whatever -- how his predecessors got there. Read the 1001 Nights, notice how the hero takes a city; then, to celebrate the victory converts four to Islam, and upholsters the city walls with the skin of the remaining 40,000 who must have been too slow in seeing the light of true religion. This is presented with admiration, not disapproval or regret; this is part of this culture. Where else can you see such overall opression, backwardness + stonings and mutilations used as part of thoroughly institutional "justice" system?

This cheap posturing by our Islamic friends is unworthy of discussion; instead, send in the cavalry (when it's worth it); otherwise laugh it off.

For those who can't get enough on abrogation, here's the Encyclopodia of the Qur'an's entry for Abrogation

About 'Special Dispensation' at least regarding polygamy, God never changed his position on it. God does what he says completely. The question would be what did God say would be the result of it? In this sense the Catholic idea of 'mortal' and 'venial' sins is applicable-- for instance, a murderer is due the punishment of death. A polygamist? Probably not. Naturally, all of the punishments are conditional to 'if you don't repent...'

A potential example of this, is the divorce certificate-- but if I am correct, Jesus states that it was Moses (a man) and not God who did this. So, God never changed his position regarding divorces. I would say that even the coming of Christ is not an example of God changing. According to Paul, (from Romans, um 4 I think..) We were predestined to be saved by Christ. In other words, God had planned it from the beginning; he never changed his mind about man.

My opinion is that special dispensation is probably a result of weak theology, but I'm not an expert on all of that, so its just speculation. (And please do not take it as otherwise.)

Granted, we don't understand the mind of God, so things hold the potential for looking inconsistent.

About the whole Koran thing, my first reaction would be that the Koran is false teaching since for one, it denies Christ (openly, even!). But it is important to look at the content as well, since one gets no-where arguing with a Muslim by proclaiming their holy book totally false.

What I find interesting is, why do they not claim (as Christianity has) that the Word of God was given to man through inspiration, leaving the room for man's error? How could the perfect Word of God actually be sufficiently embodied in such an imperfect thing as a book?

Also, #19 makes a good point, since Islam institutes a sort of big-stick ruling method, then whatever interpretation the guy with the biggest stick likes, is the one they have to go with. So if Mr Bigstickistan wants to ignore the Hadiths and whatnot, and declare the Koran the perfect Word of Allah, everyone under his palm will do so.

If this was just it, and it was limited to just whose big stick they were under, it wouldn't be so bad. But it isn't anymore, as people who are not under any islamic ruler directly have chosen a radical message for themselves.

And yes, if we read Machiavelli, we should know clearly that a Democracy of theives will steal their own freedom away. So, free but not good will not remain free, and good but not free will not remain good. The concept of the USA, I think, in a nutshell.

"since Islam institutes a sort of big-stick ruling method, then whatever interpretation the guy with the biggest stick likes, is the one they have to go with."

I think this is not entirely true. The interesting thing about Islam is that it has (generally) not been a system of royalty or centralized power. Who is the Pope of Islam? Well there isnt one, obviously. The, perhaps, critical distinction is that in Islam, the Mullah who is deemed to most accurately comprehend the Quo'ran is be de fault the most capable of 'leading'. But not necessarilly in the Western sense. Look at the Sadr/Sistani rift. Each Mullah has his advocates. Sistani isnt out directing traffic like Patton or even writing law like MacArthur. He makes a few comments in general about how a Muslim should behave and that is taken by his people as what should be made to happen- either by the ballot (or in Sadrs case) by the bomb. Islam is in theory and often in practice a meritocracy of ideas- but it has somehow become hideously corrupted in many instances.

I dont think there is anything inherintly undemocratic about Islam, just as there was nothing inherintly undemocratic about Christianity pre-Magna Carta and American revolution. Believing so may be deeply misguided, because the potentially scary part of Islam isnt that their people might not be capable of voting, but that they might not be willing to think much less speak independantly of their dogma. Its not that candidate X cant run necessarilly, but if Candidate X does run despite the Mullah's disapproval, anyone that speaks for him must be bad, even evil. That sounds like a worse form of mind control than Orwell even imagined. The fascists and communists of old wanted to control what you said or did ultimately. The Islamo-fascists want to control what you think, quite literally.

Interesting that we're all sitting around talking about what "Islam" is like, while the nuts with the lighters and pope effigies are sitting around talking about what the "Christians" are like.

Somehow I must wonder if we are not losing something valuable in these generalities.

To Mark's point (#22), if you look at this wonderland that the fanatical Islamists dream up of another Caliphate, in reality the old Caliphate was always torn by inner strife and turmoil. There wasn't one, there were several, and each one worried about the others and about who was waiting to take him out. It was more like a collaboration of regional corporations than what we would consider an empire.

#23: There is something to be said for a general understanding of the workings of a religion.

#22: Yeah, I can see that-- so a real Theocracy in a sense-- but more thuggish. So its all about religious ideas, but the guy who has the most/best cronies sways the most people. In that way, it would make sense why Muslims in other countries would be obeying the ideas (if not the words) of a foreign imam/mullah.

The Caliphate will no doubt still be torn with strife and violence, but if they can mobilize long enough against a common enemy, they could still be a threat.

But mostly, yeah, its just Fantasies to guard themselves from dealing with reality.

"...almost every Muslim country in the world, no one riots or even demonstrates without prior government approval or instigation."

What? They don't have Free Speech Zones?

old joke....
Q: What's the definition of a moderate muslim?
A: A muslim who has run out of ammunition

HA HA HA...er...wait...that's not funny any more. Nevermind.

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