Sunday, November 28, 2004

Daniel Pipes Weblog

Catholic Cardinal Praises the Reformation and French Revolution! In what may be an historic first, Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels, said to be one of a small group of papabile, on Nov. 24 argued that:

Muslims should engage in a more flexible interpretation of their scriptures, even if this prompts changes akin to the Protestant Reformation. "That is fundamental, the willingness of Islam to interpret its texts, the Koran in particular.
Muslims can integrate into Europe only they separate "church" and state, as Roman Catholicism did in the course of the French Revolution. "I think, I hope that it is possible to create a European Islam which has gone through its own French Revolution. It can already be found here or there."
Comment: Catholic clergy rarely see the French Revolution in a positive light, but the Islamic challenge can turn things upside-down. (November 26, 2004) Permalink


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Does Learning Arabic Prevent Moral Decay? So argues Akhtar H. Emon, president of an outfit called the Arabic Language Institute Foundation (or ALIF, which is the name of the first letter of the Arabic alphabet), based in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. His interesting argument can be found on an undated webpage, "Bringing Arabic to U.S. / Canadian High Schools," that begins by making the case for Arabic instruction for purely materialistic reasons:

The necessity for a greater number of Arabic speakers is obvious, given the amount of trade the United States does with countries in the Middle East and that region's growing economic importance in world trade. Many big companies have business over there, and all this requires knowledge of Arabic. …

As Arab nations gain more of a global presence, especially in non-oil related economic areas, knowing Arabic and understanding the Arab culture will be more valuable for American businesses seeking to tap that growing market. … Knowledge of Arabic will promote investments here since there are a lot of revenues from oil. The lack of knowledge has stagnated investments into this country.

This is a bit over the top, especially when one recalls that the entire GDP of the Arabic-speaking countries is less than that of Spain, but at least it's an argument that an American or Canadian can relate to.

The final paragraph then presents a quite different – and arguably more sincere – reason for wanting Arabic taught in North American high schools:

Arabic is the language of the Qur'an. In order to convey the message of Qur'an in North America and Europe, we have to first deliver its language. Knowledge of Arabic can then help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay. Shootings of the likes in Columbine High School, and an Diego schools are the symptoms and the signs (Ayah) from Allah. High School students in North America deserve better than the metal detectors to protect them. The whole system of education needs a moral shake-up. The Arabic Language Institute Foundation (ALIF), a Los Angeles-based organization is committed to this goal.

So there you have it – "Knowledge of Arabic can then help the Western countries recover from the present moral decay."

Comment: Even innocuous-looking groups like ALIF (a project partially sponsored, wouldn't you know it by the Council on American-Islamic Relations) has an intent to transform the United States into a majority Muslim country. (November 26, 2004) Permalink


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Were Investors in "Bridges TV" Misled? The Buffalo News carries a puff-piece today on the Nov. 30 opening of "Bridges TV," a new cable channel aimed at American Muslim viewers. Its founder and chief executive officer, Muzzammil S. Hassan, 40, says he chose the name because its purpose is "to build bridges of friendship and understanding." It all sounds great until one learns that the project's $5-$10 million in backing from more than fifty investors seems to be based on an error: "Hassan was able to sell investors," the Buffalo News's Jay Tokasz reports, "on key demographics for the nation's estimated 7 million Muslims." A more accurate population figure of U.S. Muslims would be less than half that large.

It is hard to imagine that hard-headed investors would put their funds into an operation premised on the mythical but faulty figure of 7 million Muslims in the United States, but if they really did, then I suspect it won't be around very long. (November 26, 2004) Permalink


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Censor Anti-Islamic Books? On April 25, 2004, FaithWorks publishers issued a 992-page book by Craig Winn, Prophet of Doom: Islam's Terrorist Dogma, In Muhammad's Own Words. So eager are they to get Winn's thoughts out that the book is both available in hardback and downloadable from the Internet.

As the title suggests, the study is a relentless attack on the Prophet Muhammad. As a summary puts it: "Islam is a caustic blend of regurgitated paganism and twisted Bible stories. Muhammad, its lone prophet, conceived his religion solely to satiate his lust for power, sex, and money. He was a terrorist." Strong stuff, to be sure, but also part of a Christian polemical legacy going back to the very origins of Islam.

Islamists have responded by trying to censor the book. An online petition, "Stop Hatred & Misinformation about the Best of Creation (peace be upon him)" with (as of today) 56,713 signatures finds that the book

is outside the pale of America's freedom of expression as it contributes towards the provocation of hate and the fraying of the fabric of its multi-cultural society by offending the sensibilities of a large segment of its population.

The petition was sponsored by members of the "Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center," which describes itself as an organization "following the principles, methods and scholarship of the early Muslim." It goes on to call for "the removal of all copies of this book from all bookstores – regular or online and for the cessation of its publication immediately."

The above petition soon spawned a response titled "First Amendment freedoms include the right to criticize Islam and Muhammad." Currently signed by 3,116 petitioners, it reads in part:

We the undersigned are shocked and appalled by recent Muslim attempts to stifle circulation of Craig Winn's Prophet of Doom. … As firm supporters of First Amendment freedoms, we demand that authors critical of Islam (or any other religion) be given full First Amendment protection. … we demand that all bookstores ignore such scare tactics and make Mr. Winn's book readily available, in accordance with customer demand.

The assault on Prophet of Doom also takes more threatening forms. Here is a review posted at amazon.com on Nov. 21:

Good use of this book, November 21, 2004

Reviewer: Proud Muslim "Proud Muslim" (Fairfax, Virginia USA) – See all my reviews.

There is good use of this book, in our FIREPLACES
trashed and burned and along with the author!!

Comment: The virtues or faults of Prophet of Doom are not the issue here. The question is whether Islam may be publicly critiqued or not in the United States. (November 22, 2004) Permalink


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State Acknowledges Its Terror Untruths "

In "State (Dept.) of Confusion [when It Comes to Palestinian Terror against Israel]," I documented the deeply deficient 199-page Department of State Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2003, released on April 29, 2004, then the revisions to it, released on June 22, by looking specifically at the Palestinian-Israeli theater. I concluded that the Department of State,

even in revising its basic research document on terrorism, does such a shoddy job points to its inability to carry out this task which needs to be handled by some other department or agency, one that can properly do objective work.

Now the full weight of State's Office of Inspector General has been brought to bear on this travesty. And what does the OIG find? As Josh Meyer sums it up in the Los Angeles Times, it

blamed the problems on sloppy data collection, inexperienced employees, personnel shortages and lax oversight. Investigators also concluded that the procedures used by the State Department, CIA and other agencies to define terrorism and terrorist attacks were so inconsistent that they couldn't be relied upon. … The department's independent investigative unit concluded, however, that politics played no role in allowing so many mistakes to be published in the original version.

The OIG reassuringly concludes that those errors were fixed in a second version.

Comment: The State Department is just digging itself in deeper and deeper, covering up, apologizing, and doing anything but admit to its inaccurate, politicized, and negligent "research." (Nov. 21, 2004) Permalink


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The MSM ("Mainstream Media") on the Cause of Arafat's Death One has to grudgingly tip the hat to what is now despairingly called the mainstream media, or MSM, and how it can cause unwelcome news simply to disappear. Case in point:

John Ward Anderson has a piece titled "Conspiracy Theories Persist on Arafat's Death" in today's Washington Post which begins with the question "What, or who, killed Yasser Arafat?" and then in 730 words discourses learnedly on the various theories about the demise of the man born as Muhammad ‘Abd ar-Ra'uf ‘Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husayni. Anderson recounts the role of Suha the wife, the French government, the rumors of poison, the Palestinian leadership's effort to get the facts out, and so on. It includes quotes like this from Hishad Ahmed, said to be a political scientist at Bir Zeit University: "If people found that Yasser Arafat was poisoned, it would be a volcano here—a big earthquake." Ahmed goes on to state that he "strongly" believes Arafat was in fact poisoned, then he speculates about the respective roles of the Israeli government and Arafat's cronies. Hussein Sheikh, the general secretary of Fatah in the West Bank is cited saying that he is "totally convinced it was an abnormal and unusual cause of death."

All this blather – yet not a single peep in Anderson's article about the really interesting question in Arafat's unnamed illness: is it AIDS? I have already quoted David Frum on this topic pointing to the symptoms being consistent with this most embarrassing disease. I can understand why the Palestinians want to brush the topic under the rug, but the Washington Post? Why does it regale its readers with nonsensical conspiracy theories and hide what is really on the minds of serious people? It's one more dereliction of duty chalked up by the MSM. (November 18, 2004)

Nov. 19, 2004 update: How interesting that the tabloids so often venture these days where the broadsheets no longer dare to go. Uri Dan reports in the New York Post that Dr. Ran Tur-Kaspa, an expert in infectious diseases at the Rabin Medical Center in Petakh Tikvah, discussed Arafat's symptoms on Israeli radio: "Yes, it might be the symptoms of AIDS." Permalink


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"Before Arafat, there was no Palestine" That's the opinion not of a die-hard Zionist disputing the existence of a "Palestine" before the 1960s, but of a Palestinian nationalist quoted by her admiring son, one Ahmed Moor, in the context of mourning Arafat and celebrating his achievements. Inadvertently, of course, the mother is telling the truth – that the idea of Palestine is a modern one. (She dates it to the start of Arafat's career; I more liberally go back to 1920, but we agree on the key point that this is not some hoary notion.)

Oh, and it bears noting that Moor makes this statement in the context of a memorial service for Yasir Arafat held in the Ben Franklin Room in a hall on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The student newspaper reports that "the 45-minute service was packed with passionate poems and assorted anecdotes from the course of Arafat's life. … The service consisted of a eulogy, followed by a moment of silence, and concluded with the reading of three poems and a prayer from the Quran." Many of those attending wore kaffiyehs. The event was sponsored by the Muslim Law Students Association, the Arab Law Students Society, the Penn Arab Student Society, and the Free Palestine Action Network. As you'd expect - more good sense and smart politics from the campus. (November 16, 2004) Permalink


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Further Developments Concerning Theo van Gogh and Holland's "Education by Murder" In the pre-Internet days, I would write a newspaper op-ed and then wait for days or weeks for reactions, which barely ever came. Now, as my webmaster sends out over twenty thousand copies of each column, response comes in fast and furious, often warranting additional comments by me. Here are some on today's piece, "[Theo van Gogh and] ‘Education By Murder' in Holland."

(1) The murder of Pim Fortuyn was in some sense the first Islamist terrorist act in recent Dutch history. Here is a report by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Joan Clements in the Daily Telegraph of March 28, 2003:

A Left-wing activist confessed in court yesterday to Holland's first political assassination in 400 years, claiming that he shot Pim Fortuyn to defend Dutch Muslims from persecution. Volkert van der Graaf, 33, a vegan animal rights campaigner, said he alone was responsible for killing the maverick protest leader last May, days before a general election in which the Fortuyn List party vaulted into second place and shattered Holland's consensus.

Facing a raucous court on the first day of his murder trial, he said his goal was to stop Mr Fortuyn exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" to try to gain political power. He said: "I confess to the shooting. He was an ever growing danger who would affect many people in society. I saw it as a danger. I hoped that I could solve it myself."

Van der Graaf, 33, added that the idea of killing Fortuyn "was never concrete until the last moment, the day before the attack." MilitantIslamMonitor.org points out that van der Graaf intially claimed his motive was to prevent Fortuyn from reviving the mink trade in Holland and only later admitted that his goal was to protect Muslims.

Adding a note of levity to an otherwise grim proceeding, Fortuyn's relatives who attended the high-security court scorned the animal rights fanatic by donning their fur coats. "I want to cause him maximum pain," said Jolanda Fortuyn, a sister-in-law. "I will make sure he notices me." The gallery shouted their abuse at van der Graaf with what the Telegraph reporters term "a vehemence unusual for the Dutch," at least until they were expelled from the courtroom.

(2) A few readers worry that I am giving advice to the enemy in my penultimate paragraph:

Islamist terrorism in the West is counterproductive because it awakens the sleeping masses; in brief, jihad provokes crusade. A more cunning Islamist enemy would advance its totalitarian agenda through Mafia-like intimidation, not brazen murders.

I worried too about this, especially as I know that the Islamists read my articles. But I went ahead with the paragraph (and might write in more depth on the same topic) because I believe the most valuable service I can render in this war is to make anti-Islamists aware of the problem they face.

(3) The backlash against radical Islam continues. Today's Telegraaf reports (as does Expatica) that a two-thirds majority of the Dutch Lower House supports the abolition of the blasphemy law introduced in the 1930s that bans religious insults. (November 16, 2004) Permalink


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Acknowledging the Issue is Israel's Existence Voices of authority – governments, the media, academics, religious figures – nearly all concur that the Palestinians back in September 1993 accepted the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, that that is now a done deal. I disagree, as I have written many times, notably in a December 1997 article titled "On Arab Rejectionism." This weblog entry cites, in reverse chronological order, others who have come around to my point of view, especially those who once believed in the Oslo negotiations and other soi-disant "peace process" diplomacy.

Bernard Lewis: "the clear message from the Palestinian camp and from many of their Arab and other supporters is that the issue is the legitimacy, that is to say the existence, of Israel as a Jewish state. ("To Be or Not to Be," The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2004)

Charles Krauthammer: "Yes, he [Yasir Arafat] signed interim deals to get a foothold in Palestine. But that was always with the objective of continuing the fight from a better strategic position. It was never to conclude a lasting compromise or real peace with Israel. That is why he died so far from his promised land. This promised land was never the West Bank and Gaza. Arafat founded Fatah in 1959 -- eight years before Israel even acquired these territories. His objective then, and until the day he died, was a Palestinian state built on the ruins of an eradicated Israel." ("Arafat's Legacy," The Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2004) Permalink


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"I Need Your Assistance; Suha Arafat" Like everyone on the Internet, I have received my share of Internet scam letters, the so-called Nigerian 419s. "Please excuse my intrusion into your private life as I write you this letter in good faith and to the glory of almighty God …" is a typical start, followed by an intricate financial proposition. This fraud may look idiotic but it is so serious that even the U.S. Secret Service is involved in stamping it out.

Most of these spams supposedly come from no-name individuals, usually lawyers, but some come from widows of known leaders, such as the many from Mrs. Sani Abacha of Nigeria ("I am Mrs. Mariam Abacha, the widow of late Gen. Sani Abacha …").

I reflexively and immediately delete these nuisances. But not today. Somehow, receiving a spam today with the subject line "I Need Your Assistance; Suha Arafat," caught my attention. It's actually well done and savvy, despite several typos, so much so that I cannot resist providing the text of the letter here:

Dear Friend,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine in particular.

I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris.

Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.

I have deposited the sum of 20 million dollars with a security firm abroad whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. This arrangement is known to you and my personal Attorney. He might be dealing with you directly for security reasons as the case may be.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $20,000,000 that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance.

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are hornet, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith. Please expedite action.

Yours sincerely,
Suha Arafat

Tempted to follow this up? Sorry, I'm not giving out the return address. (November 13, 2004) Permalink


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Turkey's Malleability Atatürk instituted a series of reforms between 1923 (when he made Ankara the capital) and 1935 (when he made Sunday the weekly day of rest) that touched nearly all aspects of life and stand unique in history; their only rival were the quite different Meiji reforms in Japan. In the course of a dozen years, Atatürk singlehandedly changed the nature of his country, becoming personally involved in the details of the modernization process.

An echo of this dramatic, driven overhaul is felt in the past two years, in the era of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his crushing parliamentary majority. Susan Sachs reports in the New York Times on the sweeping changes that have led to the rewriting of hundreds of laws and one third of the articles in the constitution:

An avalanche of new laws, geared to bring the nation closer to European Union norms, has altered the way the state treats everything from police brutality and juvenile delinquents, to commercial transactions and industrial pollution. … Turkey abolished the death penalty and the feared state security court. It created intellectual property courts, consumer courts, juvenile courts and family courts. Treason was redefined, police powers limited, criminal penalties revised, trademark laws created and press laws revamped. In short, just about every field of law changed. Even the most experienced lawyers and judges have found themselves cramming like first-year law students and signing up for training seminars while cases pile up by the tens of thousands at courthouses.

(October 24, 2004) Permalink


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Making Sure the Palestinians Remain Refugees Since 1949, the Arab regimes have consistently resisted the settlement and assimilation of Palestinians, wanting instead to maintain them as a dagger aimed at Israel. Today sees a stunning new confirmation of this ugly pattern, this time from Saudi Arabia. P.K. Abdul Ghafour reports in the Jeddah-based Arab News that senior Saudi officials are indicating that 8.8 million expatriates of all nationalities who have lived in the Kingdom for ten years can, according to an amended law, passed by the Council of Ministers on Oct. 18, apply for Saudi citizenship. Degree holders in medicine, computer science and other branches of science and technology will have priority when the new law goes into effect in four months.

Shubaily ibn Majdoue Al-Qarni, chairman of the committee that supervised this amendment, emphasized that all workers, regardless of nationality, are eligible for Saudi citizenship. "The law does not aim at a particular nationality. On the other hand, it covers all expatriates in the country."

Well, almost all: "the naturalization law would not be applicable to Palestinians living in the Kingdom as the Arab League has instructed that Palestinians living in Arab countries should not be given citizenship to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland. Diplomatic sources have estimated the number of Palestinians in the Kingdom at about 500,000." (October 21, 2004) Permalink


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