Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reviewing reactions to Islam and Terrorism

God bless Its a great, low-cost way of accessing the magazine online and reading relevant opinions on current issues.

Take for instance, C. Christine Fair & Husain Haqqani's article on on islamist terrorism,'Think Again: Islamist Terrorism'. A well written article, that seeks to clear away the prevailing myths about who terrorists are and where they come from:

"Pundits and politicians of all stripes are quick to offer their wisdom on what fuels Islamist terrorism. It just so happens that much of what they say is wrong. Poverty doesn’t produce terrorists, a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem isn’t a cure-all, and young Muslim men aren’t the most likely to turn to terror. If we are going to fight a war on terror, the least we can do is understand who we are fighting"

The article addresses some of the most burning aspects of islamist terrorism that papers such as the New York Times have devoted many dead trees to, ever since 2001-- Madrasas for example, and the muslim, unmarried, male, unemployed demographic thats been touted as the most susceptible to acts of terrorism.

"“Young, Unmarried Muslim Males Are the Most Likely to Become Terrorists
No. It is de rigueur to suggest that young, unmarried, Muslim males are the most likely population to become terrorists or to support terrorism. But from the perspective of the global supply of terrorists, this claim is false. Consider the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. They are the world’s single largest group of suicide bombers. Their cadres are not Muslim, but Hindu by religion and nearly 40 percent are female.

Even on the issue of support for terrorism, there is reason to be skeptical about the popular convention that young males are leading the pack. In a recent survey of 6,000 Muslims in 14 countries published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, females were more likely to support terrorism than were males. What’s more, married and unmarried persons are equally likely to support terrorism..."

As stated before, it is a well written article. C. Christine Fair is a senior research associate at the United States Institute of Peace, and Husain Haqqani is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and is a source well-trusted by Prof. Sawoski, a teacher of mine whose classes deal with international relations here at RWU.

However, a point I found interesting was this--

"...the significance of each regional conflict varies from one jihadi group to the next. For Algerian jihadists, their war, provoked by the refusal of the pro-Western Algerian military to accept the results of elections won by Islamists in 1991, is as significant as Palestinian resistance to Israel. Pakistani and Kashmiri jihadists spew the greatest amount of venom in their publications against “Hindu India,” not Jewish Israel..."

By stating such, the authors seem to point out that there are multiple causes, and multiple groups. This much may be true. And yet, the fact is that if what is perceived as an insult or threat is offered to the global أمة or ummah, a collective reaction will be offered by all jihadi groups, around the world.

Take for instance, the recent matter of a danish newspaper publishing "offensive" cartoons-- "The newspaper published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, some of which depicted him as a terrorist" (

There were reactions to this act at all levels, from around the world-- Ministers of 17 arab nations asked the Danish government to take strong action against those responsible. Embassies were closed, or the threat was made to recall ambassadors. The publication was protested in Gaza-- many thousands of miles away. Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said:
"Why do they talk about democracy and freedom of expression just when the issue concerns Islam?" he asked. "If it concerns other religions the facts will change."

Bingo, Mr. Moussa. This is the indicator of the key fact that the authors of the FP article, the danish newspaper editors and the danish government have collectively overlooked-- Islam today has a unifying strength that no other global religion has. This is because it is far more monotheistic than christianity is today, and carries a sense of community that other religions don't have, or possess to a smaller degree. There is no hurting the sensibilities of a part of it-- You affect the whole.

The editor of the paper tried arguing for the freedom of speech. He forgot abt malicious libel.

Its not about religion or ideas-- it is people dealing with people, people hurting other people. The "terrorists" are not fighting a crusade, or attempting to convert the world to their belief. They are protecting their culture and beliefs from external aggression. Take away the aggression and things could only get better.

But who am I to talk?

That danish cartoonist is going to have his ass kicked though. Rightfully so. How dare you use the gentle art of cartooning for propoganda? Children and whimsical-minded adults read that stuff. May the spirit of Gary Larson and Bill Watterson twist his undies forever. Sniff.

I need bed. I also needed a post scriptum on this piece, due to the comments it generated. Do read it, here.


Abhinav Goyal said...

Hmm. Not true. Its not abt protecting their culture from aggression. Its about proving beyond doubt that their culture is the most superior.

Of course, those who seek to prove things to the outside world are the ones who are the most insecure about their own beliefs. And that holds true for all those who have come out against the Danish cartoons as well. Those who claim that those cartoons are very offensive are merely showing how brittle and shallow their beliefs are.

I am not sure exactly whose ass needs to be kicked here.

The Wizard of Odd said...

Hmm. Not true, at all.

Unfortunate that you should feel this way. I don't agree that its about "proving" whose culture is "superior".

There are two issues I have with your opinion here, though of course you are entitled to it.

1) It is not about insecurity. It is about taking offence at what one holds dear, at what considers a part of one's own honour.

2) Shallow? Brittle? My first reaction is sadness, that you should say such. My second reaction is-- then was the revolt of 1857 a show of indian shallowness, hindu and muslim brittleness?

My question is-- when do you draw the line, and how much will you allow to happen to you and yours before *you*, and I mean *you*, react?

Or is it, Abhinav, that those of us who have very little left to believe in, or be passionate about, cannot fathom the dedication of those in whose minds subjects like god and country are tantamount, always?

I'm leaving your comment up, to remind myself of how easy it is to stay back and decide that it is a show of insecurity to stand up and protest for what you believe in.

Abhinav Goyal said...


There are two separate things that you are mixing

1. Arabic men and women are free to live without dignity and human rights in their own lands. If they think that the Sharia is the ultimate law of the land and that blasting Buddha statues would lead them to their frickin paradise, they are free to do so. I have no objection. There are those who choose bondage and there are those who choose freedom- the people who fought for freedom, whether they fought in 1857 or 1964, did so in their homelands so that when they died, they would have atleast some dignity- dignity that they never found in life.

2. People who tell me that I cannot do in my country what the laws of my land allow me to do are welcome to go to hell. The day a Khomeini decides that a Rushdie is not fit to live any longer because of something Rushdie wrote in a book or a cartoon he printed in a newspaper in his own country, it amounts to his wanting to rule the world. Yes, it is a sign of insecurity. Of shallowness. It is an admittance that his beliefs are against all other beliefs ("those who are not with him are against him") and that he wants to convert each and every living being on this planet to his own ways. You then either choose his way or he will kill and maim. That cannot be condoned.

And yes, I will stand up and say so.

The question, P, I ask is not "when do you draw the line, and how much will you allow to happen to you and yours before *you*, and I mean *you*, react?"

It is "who are you and what do you really stand for?"

To answer your question, I am not disallowing the Arabs their right to protest. They can do so in their own world. The people in Arabia are free to not deal with Danish goods. They can live inside their stone walls where no one can show them something they don't like. If someone had published the cartoon in Arabia, they would have anyway killed him. Sure, their land, their laws.

But if they decide that a Danish cartoonist sitting far away from their domain must die because he didn't follow their diktats, I will stand up and defend the Danish cartoonist. The Arabs have done this before (in the case of Rushdie) and if they continue to do so, they are merely proving that they do not respect my right to believe in things I consider sacred- freedom, free speech and secularism amongst them.

If one more of these Arab pigs issues a fatwah against the Danish cartoonist or anyone else, I for one would not hesitate for a second to vote for a motion to nuke Arabia.

Hena said...

I'm sorry to see that Abhinav thinks it's ok to nuke another nation just because they don't agree with what you hav to say. This might seem a li'l simplistic but aren't you, Abhinav, basically doing exactly what you acccuse the Arab nations of doing - of being shortsighted "pigs"?

And it looks extremely myopic of you to group together all Arabs as people who like to go on afternoon picnics to blow up Buddha statues, you know... Free without dignity and human rights? What kind of freedom is that?? Nobody chooses to live like that, Abhinav - surely, living in India [as I assume you do] has shown you that people take what they can get, and sometimes, much less than that.

Does anybody remember when some Western company came out with the toilet seat covers that depicted Hindu gods, among other things? I distinctly remember the public outcry that erupted over that one, especially from the Hindutva side.

One fact of the matter is that while you do have the freedom to express your opinion and your thoughts on an issue, you also have the obligation to ensure that you do not offend another person. No matter you think that being politically correct is for sissies; it is a matter of courtesy. The world is way too small now for us to assume that it is possible to live as islands, disparate and isolated - Sept 11 made sure of that.

The Wizard of Odd said...

First of all, no one has asked for a fatwah on the cartoonist.

Secondly-- this wasn't a book. This wasn't the reflection of an intellectual's art. This was a political cartoon in the side of a newspaper.

Thirdly-- though this is not the place for a book discussion, I will not hesitate to claim that whatever the "satanic verses" contained, it did not contain outright doodled fun at the expense of what a certain group considers holy. It contained one man's take on why the religion didnt work for him at a social level.

Also-- A newspaper is different from a book. A book is a personal thing. A newspaper belongs to the people who publish and the people who read. It is seen as a reflection of public sentiment.

You have chosen to make horrendous generalizations. You have used the word "they" often-- I beg you, do qualify that. "They", if you are referring to the arab people [which in itself is stupid-- the statues are in afghanistan, not the middle east. Also, I referred to islam. Not "arabic people". There are arab christians as well. The occasional atheist as well. But then, I suppose such nitty-gritties dont interest you, pehaps? But I digress]

They, do not impose the interpretation of the sharia law upon themselves. We-- indians, hindus, jains, muslims, christians, buddhists, sikhs-- have a moderate legal system. Think that means anything in places where NDTV has no reach? No. Gang rapes, dowry crimes, you name it, its there.

As for point 2...

Sigh. I refuse to reason with an extremist view point. I refuse to try and point out the fallacy of the view that islam is all about conversion. I refuse to point out that you are confusing the few with the many. I refuse to explain what it means to have what is sacred to you desecrated. I suppose its a thing that cant be explained.

"who are you and what do you really stand for?" you wrote.

I stand for understanding, and relating to the world. I stand for the arab boys and girls I have come to consider my family.

You have shown incredible immaturity in this comment. Of course arabs have insulted indians and their intelligence before-- you have just given them one more reason to do so-- But they have never done so using my blog for a medium. Please keep your language within bounds when it comes to describing people-- I once used to call you a dear friend. Don't make me regret it anymore than I am now.

Feroz Zaveri said...

I read Abhinav's first 2 lines as "protecting their culture from aggression and proving beyond doubt that their culture is the most superior".

Is protecting the same as proving beyond doubt...? Do you, Abhinav, think your comments are justified based on these events?

And your last post ends "If one more of these Arab pigs issues a fatwah against the Danish cartoonist or anyone else, I for one would not hesitate for a second to vote for a motion to nuke Arabia."

Aren't you trying to prove beyond doubt that your idealogy is the most superior?

Abhinav Goyal said...

I understand your disappointment completely, P.

It cannot be more than the disappointment I felt while reading your comments on the supposedly deserved ass-kicking of the Danish cartoonist. Anyone who says such a thing cannot possibly stand for freedom and democracy. You should read your comments on the newspaper in juxtaposition with Khomeini's - you almost sound like the dead Ayatollah himself.

As regards the actuals, I am not a student of foreign policy, political science, international relations and such and thus don't feel obliged to be politically correct. Arabs was referring actually to the citizens of Arabia there but I shan't go into explaining it.

One more point though before I leave this space- you should also read your comments on the difference between books and newspapers and then tell me why, if books are such personal things, is so much crap floating around based on Bible, Koran and all the religious books.

I know of course that you will now create a division between various kinds of books now and how some books are personal, others are public, etc etc.

To each his, or her, own. Of course, thats a principle for those believe in free speech and choice. You are free to censor it and castigate me for saying what I believe.

Sharmishta said...

Every religion has its share of fantasism, something I think both Abhinav and you would agree on. But the extent to which people would go may differ. The reason why the Islamic world is under so much attack from various arenas is to do with the fact that nations that are predominantly Islamic relate their patriotism to religion. We in India are unable to that due to the existence of what we hope is secularism.

I’m not a follower of politics or religion, but everyone wants to get their hands into the Middle East soup, oil or religion. And frankly, there is nothing wrong if someone sitting miles away has an opinion about it, be it positive or negative. Extremism never helped anyone, it doesn’t seem to be helping the Muslims either, in their own countries. So how is anyone going to accept a Muslim’s point of view that they are being wrongly attacked or accused of extreme violence/terrorism.

The Wizard of Odd said...

Im quoting 2 emails I received in response to this post, because I think their presence here in this space has validity:

"christ... abhinav's blown it out of proportion. their superiority- bull - that might be the case for ppl who bombed WTO but i would never make a generalisation on all the arabs bcos of that. it is a cry for safeguarding their culture really... if someone fools around with Jesus, countless Christians would stand up and protest and the same rule applies to all Gods - u don't mess with people's beliefs - freedom of expression not at the cost of stamping all over someone's religion... abhinav's way out of line.

... and i really want to read Satanic verses, just because.

take care and stay away from close-minded opinionated arses"

"Filtered Idiocy. Who is this person???. In any case, it only saddens me immensely to think that less than a day ago, I was sitting and listening to Kinda(a Jordanian MUSLIM woman no less!) who worked illegally for the U.N and studies Developmental Anthropology here, at Goldsmiths, telling us that she could be arrested and killed for (a) studying her subject and (b) working with an NGO, because the Government does not distinguish between spies, traitors and NGO's. A desperate failure to distinguish between the few and many indeed.
And what was all that rot about "original culture"? Hasn't this person looked around to know that there is no such thing? that if anything, culture is viral? that hybridity is it's only closest possible description (if one is foolish enough to ask for a definition of culture that is). I can only think of Mahasweta Devi, Draupadi, and Spivak. You're right, it is pointless. But ethnocentrism is a malaise. I've seen it every day of growing up in a "brahmin" family. Bollocks. Anyway. I vote for throwing all three Volumes of "Capital" on the boy's head. Perhaps a Machete would work better. But no. I run ahead of myself. I hope he sees. Someday. *Sigh*"

I refuse to castigate you, Abhinav. I only remain saddened.

A Hairy Snail said...

I see that a lot has been said about religious beliefs and the platforms on which we supposedly stand and spew out our views on lives of millions even though we cannot, and never will be in any way, be in a point of refernce where what we say will make a sea of difference.

The point is that demeaning any god - hindu, muslim, christian, buddhist, jain, you name it - will create as much of a furore as it has created and is creating in the wake of the whole Danish cartoon issue. Do you Abhinav remember the way Maqbool Fidah Hussain was castigated a few years back for painting a Hindu goddess (I think it was Saraswati) in the nude? The reason this particular incident in Europe (and boiling over elsewhere) is taking such proportions is because this is Islam we are talking about. Islam, due to certain newsbreaking extremists, bears the brunt of the whole world now. Do you remember how when Hindu extremists destroyed the Babri masjid, they were castigated? royally? (And that too by hindus themselves.) Do you know that all religious texts basically preach the same thing - love your neighbour, do good, live peacably and so on? Do you even know what a fatwah is supposed to be? It is meant to be a legal opinion. That means it has no bearing on anyone to follow what has been pronounced. Individuals are free to accept them or not. And historically speaking, fatwa are peaceful. They are a mode of protest. Period. Nothing more than that. Issuing a fatwa against someone does not mean that they will be killed.

And finally being politically incorrect does not mean that one can make statements like bombing the arabs. What shit.

Oh and Abhinav, Arab men and women live with dignity. Much more than some of us who think nuking arabs is their god-given-protection-of-humanity-types right.

Cheers all.

Anonymous said...

yes.. and i dont remember any hindus blowing up any european embassies or carrying placards saying democracy go to hell in NEW YORK. there are humane ways of showing dissent and there is the muslim way.
nor do i remember any buddhists vandalising an afghan embassy when their bamian buddhist statues were destroyed. I have to respectfully agree with abhinav. All beliefs are not equal. A set of beliefs that espouses cultural superiority, anti-semitism and trampling of women's rights can never be equal to another that is the entire opposite. Maybe in a morally ambiguous world, but not in this one where moral codes on how to be a good human being is defined. With every last drop of blood in my body, and I know abhinav will agree, I will fight to defend this definition of humanity whether it is from the nazis, muslims or communists.

The Wizard of Odd said...


nice name. Quite a mouthful. As for hindus blowing up things, how many links to articles on the 1991 blasts, on the ayodhya isue, or godhra would you like me to pull up in here? Poor little blog of mine.

I have refused to respond to comments on this post for a long time' I only venture out here to say that perhaps you could read more on the issue before jumping into the ring with gloves off. And please, dont DONT post a comment. I will not publish. Its a democracy, and I choose what to allow on my territory.

Aye, bingo. That's exactly the reason why democracy aint the final level. Hail Marx and your dialectic. I await the martians.

Anonymous said...

The 1991 bomb blasts were done by Islamic militants in response to the demolition of the ayodhya mosques.. u read up u ignorant fuck. as for the demolition of the mosque, if you read up, you will see that there was a hindu temple in that spot that the muslim barbarians destroyed and put a mosque on... kinda like what they do everywhere. not only that, i think all the mosques in the world should be demolished.
again godhra.. the muslims started it.. i think everyone has the right to revenge dont u? or just the poor muslims in response to cartoons of muhammed with a hard on for aisha?
so u wont publish my comment but i hope that you can atleast read... GO FUCK YOURSELF AND YOUR MUSLIM BRETHREN.
- hinduzionkafir

The Wizard of Odd said...

No dearest.

I will publish your post. Only to remind everyone of exactly what kind of degenerate low-lifes hang around the blogosphere.

As to who blew up what-- :) Sweetheart. No doubt you are somewhere between 23 and 27.. no?

Beautiful imagery. You also-- no doubt-- write, yes?

Allah khair, baby boy. And Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the dalai lama, ishtar, lennon, steve vai, Cobain, rama, shiva and your mother.

Coz lord knows you need it.