Allen Lobo, Corporate finance executive, former physician-scientist
This will not be a popular thing to say at all. But it is the harsh truth.
When I hear people in the West repeat ad infinitum that only a tiny minority of Muslims the world over are radical, they are talking out of their behinds.
Just one fact utterly obliterates that assertion and makes a joke of it.
Which is that both the clergy and the laity in Islam in distressingly large numbers hold that anyone leaving the faith must be put to death.
In fact it is the one thing which is largely a constant across Muslim nations with the only exception being those in Central Asia.
Most distressing of all is the fact that that position is held even more among the most populous Muslim nations. Which compounds that all the more. Because ten percent of Azerbaijanis is not the same as ten percent of Pakistanis.
Yes, even in a nation like Malaysia, well over half of the population favor the death penalty for leaving Islam. Remember here that that nation is cited as being a model of Islamic moderation. Like I said, talking straight out of their behinds.
Because that right there in terms of morality is GAME OVER.
Ask yourself whether there is any group of any kind in the world which holds that. No, not merely any other religion, I mean any group whether that be citizens of a nation, employees of an organization or fans of a sports team.
I’ll wait. Go on, think hard about it.
There is only one organization where you leave under penalty of death –the Mafia.
And even there, you have to make a deliberate choiceto join that criminal organization and are not automatically and involuntarily inducted into it even if your dad is godfather of one of the infamous Five Families.
Now then tell me, if even five percent of adherents of any group said that someone who chose to disavow their membership of it was to be put to death – who in their right minds would call that group peaceful?
If I told you that someone who renounced any of the various groups which I belong to ought to be put to death – which among you will say of me “Allen Lobo is a peaceful man!” You’d be laughed right out of the room, wouldn’t you?
It is a bizarre world where people say with a straight face that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful when so many of them tell pollsters like PEW in a breadth of not only sampling size but across time that anyone who leaves the religion must be murdered.
You know, in a nation like Pakistan which has the death penalty for blasphemy, that law is such a given in political terms that not even the most liberal parties will dare contest it during elections. Because they know that it would be very adverse to their chances of winning any election. When men like Fareed Zakaria (a well-meaning and highly intelligent man I might add) cite as an example of a lack of radicalization that no Islamic parties have ever won more than even ten percent of the popular vote in Pakistan, they have that reasoning precisely backwards – because even the two mainstream political parties (The Pakistan Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party) have accepted such heinous laws and thereby completely normalized them.
What need is there then to elect radical fundamentalist parties when your garden variety politicians support radical fundamentalist policies anyway? The sad thing is that even the Pakistani politicians who criticize that blasphemy law do so by citing that it is improperly applied against innocents – thereby implying that it is fine only so long as actual blasphemers are put to death. Now there is certainly an element of real fear of reprisals by fanatics if these politicians were to call for scrapping that law, but there is also the undeniable widespread popularity of it.
Once again, this is a nation of almost 200 million people, 99% of whom are Muslim. This is not tiny little Albania we’re talking about.
When Swiss reformer Tariq Ramadan called for a moratorium on the death penalty in Islam for such offenses as adultery, apostasy and blasphemy, there was a massive outcry across the Islamic nations. Note here that the man did not even call for abolition, merely a ‘time out’. I don’t blame him because you realistically have to take it one step at a time. But that was enough to cause such outrage.
Being a person of peace does not merely mean that you don’t run around killing people. Because that is an abysmally low bar in terms of expectations.
Just as if I held that any woman who wore a short skirt deserves to be raped, you wouldn’t say that I was not a misogynist just because I haven’t raped any women!
No, this is a terrible and shameful problem which liberal Muslims need to reform. Urgently.
There is no way to sugarcoat this shit sandwich.
Focus then not on the image but on the substance of the actual practices and attitudes.
Take care of the latter ones and the image will sort itself out. Until then no amount of PR will work. Not in an age when information (such as all of those matters listed above) is freely available and easily accessible with the click of a mouse.
No, all other things pale in comparison so long as so many in Islam hold that position.
No amount of piety or charity will wipe that stain.
Yes, many in the West will continue to parrot that line anyway.
And it speaks volumes of just how pedestrian their moral expectations are of Muslims when that bar is set so low that all that you need to be called peaceful is to not kill someone who leaves your group even as you may sincerely hold that it ought to be done if you could get away with it.
My writings in Stellar Reaches assumes that Islam is Islam, even 3000 years from now.
But that’s for story purposes in a fictional universe: in the real world, I believe that religions grounded in swords and death threats are not viable in the long term.
The ongoing, accelerating disaster that is Saudi Arabia – which inspires much of the Empty Quarter setting – provides a hint of the future of Islam.
But there is an even greater force at work, greater than the destruction of the strongest backer (financial & ideological) of the Islamic religion…
I have just watched a tape of a show broadcast on July 14. That video has forced me to re-evaluate the West’s timetable . . . and also Osama bin Laden’s. The show was a documentary titled, The AMC Project: Hollywood and the Muslim World.
AMC is the American Movie Classics channel. It is a satellite TV channel. It got its start by broadcasting classic American movies without advertisements. It is broadening its audience.
The documentary began with images of the Middle East. The grabber was a telephoto shot of a mosque’s minaret prayer tower. In the foreground were two commercial satellite reception dishes. Then these words scrolled across the screen:
In 1990, there was one satellite channel in the Middle East. Today, there are over a hundred.
For $12 a month, an Egyptian can receive 70 channels.
Governments cannot control these channels.
Click. Click. Click.
Will and Grace. Friends. Sex and the City. It’s all there, in living color — all the homosexuality, adultery, and fornication that Americans have come to chuckle over. It’s a laugh a minute. And tens of millions of Muslims are laughing.
That Osama bin Laden will gain recruits for a time is obvious. This is the last stand of traditional Islam. For 1,400 years, Islamic authorities could close the borders to the West whenever they were not crossing the borders on horseback. They could expand, then lock down the territory they had conquered. The only territory that Islam ever surrendered was Spain, which took 750 years of resistance and war by Spaniards, and Greece, which took a war in the early nineteenth century, when the Ottoman Empire was collapsing.
But now national borders are disappearing. Muslims are invading Europe. They cross the borders once they have entered Spain or Italy. Meanwhile, America is invading the Islamic world culturally with TV, movies, and the Internet. Both sides are being forced to surrender their cultures. Europeans are disappearing because of falling birth rates. But Islamic authorities are losing their hold on their people because the materialism of the West is taking root in the Middle East.
Islam has relied on coercion from the top to defend its borders. Those borders are now collapsing. In 1990, it might have been possible to control the electronic border. It no longer is.
I saw a recent news report on the economy of Baghdad. The hot item is TV satellite dishes. Saddam had kept them out. No longer.
Islam has not developed the necessary cultural defenses, which begin with self-restraint. It is facing a developed culture with an unstoppable technology. That technology is electronic. There is no doubt that Islamic alternatives will come — sitcoms as dopey as the West’s — but the content will be in the direction of Hollywood’s. It has been everywhere else. Why should Islam be different?
What had worked for Islam for 1,400 years — border guards with weapons — will no longer work. Neither will the police.
America is now hated in the Middle East, but it’s too late for successful resistance based on coercion. Islam will now have to develop defenses based on self-government. The Islamic revolutionary brotherhoods have this. What remains to be seen is whether the broad mass of Muslims have it.Will and Grace Meets Osama bin Laden, by Gary North
Censorship won’t cut it. Either you have the self-discipline to resist the assorted perversions of the day, or you don’t.
Seeing that Muslims depend on death threats from on high to enforce compliance, it is obvious that they don’t have it. And this failure will only compound, as tech-driven decentralization takes hold over their assorted dictatorships.
(A slightly different version of this post is in my other blog, here.)