WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON? [ISLAM]
A CHRISTIAN APPROACH TO SOME CURRENT GEO-POLITICAL TRENDS
Texts: Matthew 16:1-3, Luke 21:29-31
Since September 11, the world has experienced some of the most apocalyptic
events of all time. In these two studies I want to summarize some of these
events/trends. (I am semi-retired now, and have time to read up to 50 emails
a day covering secular and religious news).
But first, DISCUSS:  In the last 20 years or so, what are the BEST two or
three things/events to have happened in our world (apart from millions
making a commitment to Christ)?
 In the last 20 years or so, what are the WORST two or three
things/events to have happened in our world?
Here, for what they're worth, are mine:
1. ADVANCES IN MEDICINE
'Scientists from the UK and the United States and other countries finished
the sequencing of the human genome. We're developing diagnostic tools using
something called nano-technology, super-microtechnology that will enable us
to identify tumours when they are just a few cells in size, raising the
prospect that we will be able to cure all cancers. [Bill Clinton. See
endnotes for sources].
2. INFORMATION REVOLUTION
In 1993, there were only fifty sites on the worldwide web. 'When I left
office, the number was three hundred and fifty million and rising' [Bill
3. THE SPREAD OF DEMOCRACY
This is the first time in history when more people live under governments of
their own choosing than live under dictatorships. It has never happened
before. [Bill Clinton].
1. HUNGER and POVERTY-RELATED ILLNESSES: Nearly 3,000 died on September 11,
but 25,000 to 30,000 children continue to die every day from hunger-related
diseases. Half the people on earth live on less than two dollars a day. A
billion people, less than a dollar a day. A billion people go to bed hungry
every night and a billion and a half people - one quarter of the people on
earth - never get a clean glass of water. One woman dies every minute in
childbirth. [Bill Clinton]
If you just take AIDS alone we have forty million AIDS cases, that is 8,200
people a day dying. Thirteen million orphans. We're projected to have a
hundred million AIDS cases by 2005. If that happens, it will be the biggest
epidemic since the plague killed a quarter of Europe in the fourteenth
century. [Bill Clinton]
According to recent World Bank's 'World Development Indicators' rates of
schooling in Africa have declined since 1980. 'Getting rid of malnutrition
could yield benefits 15 times greater than it costs.' Does foreign aid work?
'80% of foreign aid meets its goals.'
>From 1995 to 2001 there have been twenty one hundred 'terrorist' attacks.
We're spending - America - about a billion dollars a month in Afghanistan,
that's as cheap as a war gets. We will never fight a conflict for less than
a billion a month. [Bill Clinton]
An unprecedented number of Christians now face disinformation,
discrimination, and outright persecution worldwide. "There are more than 200
million Christians in the world today who do not have full human rights as
defined by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, simply because they are
Christians. According to the WEA Religious Liberty Commission it's the
largest group in the world without full human rights because of their
Now some news headlines, in the last two weeks:
* Kosovo: In Kosovo a five-point-five earthquake, sent 5,000 people, mostly
Muslims, from their homes to sleep in makeshift tents, in the cold. A
Christian organisation, International Aid, is showing compassion to them by
* India: India has experienced the worst Hindu-Muslim violence in more than
* Sudan: In Northeastern Upper Nile, in the Sudan, an estimated 60,000
mostly Christians face starvation. Recent attacks by Sudanese government
troops have seen the destruction of their food supplies and seed stocks.
* Indonesia: Before dawn on Sunday, April 28, militant Muslims stormed the
predominantly Christian village of Soya near Ambon, Indonesia, going
door-to-door attacking the villagers. At least fourteen people were brutally
killed, including a six-month old baby and four-year old child. A church and
at least 30 homes were torched. According to eyewitnesses, some of the
attackers wore Indonesian military uniforms. Two days before the attack,
Laskar Jihad commander Jafar Umar Thalib told some 5,000 Muslims outside the
Al-Fatah Mosque in Ambon to ignore the peace accord and renew the violence.
He said, "From today, we will no longer talk about reconciliation. Our ...
focus now must be preparing for war - ready your guns, spears and daggers."
* Nigeria: On April 25, two former Muslims, Lawali Yakubu and Ali Jafaru ,
were given three days to recant their conversion or face the death penalty.
This was the ruling of a court in Mada in northern Nigeria where strict
Islamic law is enforced. Islamic law mandates the death sentence for
converts from Islam.
* Turkey: Deportation orders against some foreign Christians came directly
from the Home Office. The International Fellowship in Antalya has received
almost daily visits from the police in the last few months. They run a cafe
and bookshop called the St Paul Centre. Police have behaved threateningly
and told them to take their sign down. The believers in Adana have suffered
constant harrassment from the police. The latest demand is that they are not
allowed to meet after dark. An Islamic professor of religion, who appeared
on several of the TV discussions and who behaved despicably towards the
believers said " We won't rest until we dig you out by the roots."
Christianity is still the chosen religion of a third of the world's
population, but most Christians no longer live in the United States or
Europe. The center has moved southward, and the typical Christian in the
world today is a Latin American or African woman. Europeans now make up 28
percent of the world's Christian population, down from 70 percent in 1900,
said Dana L. Robert, a theology professor at Boston University who has
written extensively on global Christianity. By 2050, six nations will each
have more than 100 million Christians, Jenkins projects. Only one, the
United States, represents the "advanced industrializEd world." The other
countries are Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Industrialization, scientific
advances and urbanization have largely driven religion to the periphery of
public consciousness in much of the West.
THE SOURCES OF CONFLICT
We should show concern for those who are the victims of conflict and
persecution whoever they are and wherever it's found. Noam Chomsky: 'There
are several areas of ongoing serious violence - three in particular, which
I'll say something about. One is Israel and Palestine. Second is Iraq -
there, it's both sanctions and bombing. Third is Turkey and the Kurds.
That's one of the most severe human rights atrocities of the 1990s,
continuing in fact. The Kurds have been miserably oppressed throughout the
whole history of the modern Turkish state but things changed in 1984. In
1984, the Turkish government launched a major war in the Southeast against
the Kurdish population. And that continued. In fact it's still continuing.
Clinton was sending a huge flow of arms to Turkey - in fact Turkey became
the leading recipient of US military aid in the world for a while - though
over the longer haul Egypt and Israel head the list.'
Conflict and war are not attractive features of Homo sapiens The main source
of conflict is an 'identity differentiation' between the "I"
and the "you," "us' and "them". Arab against Jew; black against white; Hutu
against Tutsi; my city versus your city; my team against your
team; it could be man against woman.
So it's not religion that 'generates' conflict. Rather humans are fearful
that their space or their privileges - or their lives - will be taken away
by some group and so they fight for power - whether it's within your
corporation, within a church, between two cultures or two ethnic groups or
Fundamentalism has erupted in every single major faith worldwide. We have
fundamentalist versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism,
Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism.
Fundamentalism is not simply extremism, or conservatism. Billy Graham, for
example, would not be accepted as a fundamentalist by those who call
themselves fundamentalists, nor would he call himself one. The Saudis, in
Saudi Arabia, may be traditionalists but they're not, strictly speaking,
We often see the words 'fundamentalist terrorism' or 'fundamentalist
violence' put together. But only a small minority of fundamentalists
actually take part in acts of terror and violence.
If you put people across a spectrum from 'left' to 'right' on an issue, the
fundamentalists are, of course, towards the right. But you need a vertical
axis - 'soft' to 'hard'. Hard fundamentalists believe the same stuff as the
'soft' ones but tend towards violence often, (and now here's the counselor
speaking!) as a result of collisions with oppressive 'powers' in the first
20 or so years of their lives!
So what is religious fundamentalism? It's a revolt against the secular
'takeover' of the modern world. Fundamentalists want want to drag religion
from the sidelines and see God, or religion, put on to centre stage. Some
fundamentalists are bigoted and rigid. Others are simply nostalgic. So
Hasidic Jews, for example, are ultra-orthodox. They don't want new
secular/rational ideas infecting their Jewish religiosity. Sometimes
fundamentalists feel they have to retreat from mainstream society and create
enclaves of pure faith where they try to keep the godless world at bay and
where they try to live a pure religious life - for example the
ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in New York City or Christians at Bob
Jones University or Muslims in Osama bin Laden's
Now why do some of these resort to violence? Because every fundamentalist
movement is rooted in a profound fear. They are convinced that modern
liberal secular society wants to wipe out religion in some way or is
destructive to faith.
In some parts of the Muslim world, the modernization process has happened so
quickly that secularism is experienced as a deadly assault upon faith. For
example, when Ataturk was bringing modern Turkey into being, he closed down
all the madrasas, the colleges of further education. He abolished all the
Sufi orders and forced them underground, and forced all men and women to
wear Western dress.
In Iran, the shahs used to make their soldiers go through the streets with
bayonets, taking the women's veils off and tearing them to pieces in front
of them. These modernizers wanted their countries to look modern. But the
vast majority of the population had no understanding of modern institutions
or modern ideals. Very often in these countries, only an elite had the
benefit of a Western education.
In Egypt, the chief mentor of Osama bin Laden, Sayyid Qutb, developed the
form of fundamentalism that tends to be followed by most
fundamentalists in the Sunni Muslim world. President Nasser locked up
thousands of members of the Muslim brotherhood, often without trial, and
often for doing nothing more incriminating than handing out leaflets or
attending a meeting. Sayyid Qutb went into the camp as a moderate. But after
15 years of hard labor, watching the brothers being executed, or being
subjected to mental or physical torture, he came to the conclusion that
secularism was a great evil. Qutb was executed by President Nasser in 1966.
And that kind of fundamentalism led to what happened on September 11.
Is the antidote to religious fundamentalism more secularism? No. The best
response to bad religion is better religion. The three religions we're
looking at here are religions of 'the book', and the key question is, how do
we interpret the book? In Christian faith, we have the interpretation of
Martin Luther King Jr. and also that of the Ku Klux Klan. Better
interpretation of the book, is a better response to fundamentalism than
throwing the book away.
And also a better theology. There are vital religious commitments that
fundamentalists often leave out - namely compassion, social justice, and
How should we relate to the State? Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The church
must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but
rather the conscience of the state." 'Theocracy' tries to enforce the
dictates of the faith. So al Qaeda, the Taliban, and American
fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are indeed theocrats
who want their religious agenda be enforced by the power of the state.
I read this somewhere: 'Fundamentalism too easily justifies violence as a
tool for implementing its agenda. Genuine faith either forbids violence as a
methodology or says that violence must always be limited and lamented, never
glorified or celebrated. Genuine faith always seeks alternatives to violence
that seek to break its deadly cycle. Fundamentalism, instead, offers what
Walter Wink calls "the myth of redemptive violence" - that somehow violence
can save us after all.'
Fundamentalist movements can also be modernizing. In Iran there's a slow
movement towards democracy and modernity. But President Khatami, still sees
himself working within the tradition of the Ayatollah Khomeini (who
popularized the idea that America was the 'Great Satan').
But fundamentalism is not going away: it has erupted in almost every place
where a modern, secular-style society has tried to establish itself.
Back to Islamic fundamentalism. In the west we have constitutions and/or
laws to protect our personal rights. America, for example, has as its social
contract a Bill of Rights, a Constitution, and the preamble to the
Constitution. When their personal rights are violated, they say 'This is
unconstitutional.' The Muslim's social contract is his or her faith. So when
they feel their rights have been violated, they respond by saying 'This is
un-Islamic'. To a Muslim, the term "un-Islamic" is not a translation of
"un-Christian" - which tends to mean uncharitable - but more
like "unconstitutional" in the language of a U.S. citizen.
So, again, Muslim fundamentalism is a reaction to a perceived attack - not
so much from modernity, but from militant secularism, which attacks their
self-definition as Muslims.
ISLAM: PEACEFUL OR MILITANT?
[The following is a precis of the Voice of the Martyrs article 'Jihad in
Islam']: In the past months, especially after September 11, 2001, how often
you may have read or heard that: 'Islam means peace.' 'Islam is a religion
of tolerance. It rejects violence and promotes religious and racial
harmony.' 'The word "jihad" does not mean holy war. Our enemy is fanaticism,
not Islam.' Or: 'Islam is intolerant, militant, supports terrorism.'
Jihad literally means "to strive", "to struggle". Muslims have recognized
the following kinds of jihad: 1. The greater jihad: the struggle of the self
with evil; the struggle to control the body's members. 2. The lesser jihad:
physical struggle, often associated with fighting and killing. It occurs in
the Qur'an most frequently with the meaning of "warfare", often coupled with
"fi sabil Allah" (in the way of Allah). Technically, it is war against
non-Muslims only, since Muslims are forbidden to fight Muslims.
Islam's source materials (which virtually the total Muslim community has
recognized as foundational for any serious formulation and understanding of
Islam, its beliefs and its practices, including jihad) are: the Qur'an
(God's eternal and inspired Word revealed through Muhammad), the Hadith
(Muslim Canonical Tradition, the Way of the Prophet Muhammad, who is the
recipient of the Qur'an and its primary interpreter) and the Shari`ah
(Islamic Law as shaped especially by the Qur'an and the Hadith).
In summary: 1. Islam is a total way of life. It knows no separation of
church and state, of sacred and secular. 2. Islam condemns all polytheism
and idolatry, affirming that God alone is God. It is the culmination of all
God's previous revelations (Judaism and Christianity included), it
supersedes them and virtually renders them obsolete. Islam is now God's sole
revelation and religion for all humanity, Muhammad is God's final prophet
and the Qur'an is God's final book. World sovereignty is the sole
prerogative of Islam.
Muhammad began his ministry among his own people (the Arabs) in and around
Mecca in A.D. 610. For thirteen years he faithfully proclaimed that God
alone is God. Yet his followers were few and mostly of lower status. With
Muhammad they endured opposition, ridicule and even persecution. Still,
throughout this period he responded with restraint. In fact, the Qur'an
itself documents how he was to respond to rejection and abuse: 'Call unto
the way of the Lord.and reason with them in a better way.. Grieve not for
them and be not in distress because of that which they devise.' (16:125-127)
'Repel evil with that which is better.' (23:96)
In A.D. 622 Muhammad moved from his home in Mecca to Medina, where Arab
tribes had invited him to reside and where they became members of the new
Islamic movement. So important is this event in Islamic history - it is
called the hijrah ("emigration") - that it actually marks the beginning of
the Islamic era. In Medina Muhammad quickly assumed both religious and
political leadership over the whole Medinan community. Soon after he arrived
in Medina, he received the first of many Quranic passages (called Medinan
passages) which directed him and the Muslim community to fight in the cause
of Allah against their enemies.
The following are a few of the Medinan passages which refer to jihad as
military struggle in the Qur'an: 'Sanction is given unto those who fight
because they have been wronged.' (22:39; cf. 22:39-41). 'The (true)
believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and
afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the
cause of Allah. Such are the sincere.' (49:15; 22:78; 25:52). 'Fight in the
way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities.
Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.' 'And slay them wherever ye find them, and
drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is
worse than slaughter.' 'O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the
hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell' (9:73) 'You
should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should strive for the cause
of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if ye did
but know. He will forgive you your sins and bring you into Gardens
underneath which rivers flow, and pleasant dwellings in Gardens of Eden.
That is the supreme triumph.' (61:10-13; cf. 9:19-22; 9:111; 2:154;
2:243-245; 47:4-6; 3:195).
The well known Egyptian scholar, Sayyid Qutb, notes four stages in the
development of jihad: 1. While the earliest Muslims remained in Mecca before
fleeing to Medina, God did not allow them to fight; 2. Permission is given
to Muslims to fight against their oppressors; 3. God commands Muslims to
fight those fighting them; 4. God commands the Muslims to fight against all
polytheists. He views each stage to be replaced by the next stage in this
order, the fourth stage to remain permanent. To justify the universal and
permanent dimensions of jihad he cites the following passages: 'Whoever
fights in the way of God and is killed or becomes victorious, to him shall
We (God) give a great reward.' (4:74-76) 'Fight them until there is no
oppression and the religion is wholly for God' (8:38-40). 'Fight against
those among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who do not believe
in God and the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His messenger have
forbidden, until they are subdued' (9:29-32).
According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, 'The fight is obligatory even when
the unbelievers have not started it.'
At the time of Muhammad's death most of Arabia had submitted to Islamic
sovereignty. His earliest successors carried on Islam's expansion beyond the
borders of Arabia. Within a century following Muhammad's death Islam had
moved westward across North Africa into Europe and eastward as far as
present day Pakistan...
Islam's Hadith collections too, the second important source of Islam, devote
considerable space to jihad. The 66 page Introduction to the nine volumes of
the widely distributed 'The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari'
contains a 19 page essay 'The Call to Jihad (Fighting for Allah's Cause) in
the Holy Qur' an' by Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Hamid, Sacred Mosque
of Mecca. The author writes in his concluding appeal to his readers: 'So it
is incumbent upon us (Muslims) to follow the path which Allah's Messenger
(Muhammad)...We have to teach our brethren and convey the Message to
non-Muslims all over the world as much as possible in order to save them
from the Hell-fire. We have to prepare ourselves to stand in the face of our
enemy and to possess the means of power and to participate in the progress
of useful industries in order to protect our religion and be powerful enough
to face our enemy, as Allah, the Elevated says in Surat al-Anfal (8:60):
'And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war
(tanks, places, missiles and other weapons, etc.) to strike terror into the
(hearts of) the Enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside, whom you
may not know, but whom Allah does know. Whatever you shall spend in the
Cause of Allah, shall be repaid to you, and you shall not be treated
So there is the rationale for terror!
Jihad in the Shari`ah. The Shari`ah is God's Law, distinct from all human
codes of law. It is God's indispensable link between Himself and His people
(ummah), the manifestation of His divine will for Muslims and for those
non-Muslim minorities (or majorities) under the domination of the Muslim
community. All Muslim schools of Shari`ah acknowledge the presence and
importance of jihad as warfare. 'The sacred injunction concerning war is
sufficiently observed when it is carried on by any one party or tribe of
Mussulmans; and it is then no longer of any force with respect to the rest.
It is established as a divine ordinance, by the word of God, who has said,
in the Koran, "slay the infidels", and also by a saying of the prophet, "war
is permanently established until the day of judgement."
Now some Muslims, claiming that Islam means peace and avoids violence, are
able to substantiate their claims with Meccan passages from the Qur'an. A
few Muslims in the past, and more at present, have described 'jihad' warfare
as defensive only.
'We had an Afghan mosque in New York City, where on September 12th, the Imam
was a stand-up guy and he got up there and said "this terrorism is terrible,
it is wrong, it is immoral, it is a violation of Islam." But a minority of
his congregation walked out and started worshipping in the parking lot.'
But generally speaking, in the Muslim community, the holy
war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission
and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or
Then, what about the Muslim claims that Islam means peace, that it is in
harmony with other religions, that it rejects violence? No doubt, for
Muslims Islam may mean peace in its traditional Muslim sense, i.e., in so
far as they have submitted to the conditions Islam imposes upon them.
However, Islamically speaking, Islam has never meant peace for idolaters
unless the idolaters abandon idolatry and embrace Islam. Nor, Islamically,
has Islam meant peace for the People of the Book (Jews and Christians),
unless the People of the Book submit to Islamic political rule and the
dhimmi conditions which the Shari`ah imposes upon them as the People of the
But then, who are the Christians to complain about jihad when they
themselves have engaged in their own forms of jihad throughout their
history, and that not only against non-Christians but also, on occasions,
even against other Christians! Have they forgotten the Crusades?
In 1095, Pope Urban II urged the Christian soldiers to embark on the first
crusade to capture Jerusalem for Christ. Well, they did it, and burnt a
synagogue with three hundred Jews, they then proceeded to murder every
Muslim woman and child on the Temple Mount in a travesty that is still being
discussed today in the Middle East. [Bill Clinton]. This is one reason why
the word 'Crusade' is fast going out of Western political and Christian
leaders' vocabulary. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, is being invited
to Australia to conduct a 'Celebration', not a 'Crusade'!
Contrast how Jews and Christians thrived under Muslim rule in Spain with how
the Christians later drove Muslims and Jews out from Spain. And what about
European imperialism, colonialism and the occupation of Muslim lands? There
is no doubt that both Muslims and non-Muslims can compile their own long
lists of shameful actions by Christians, perpetrated in the name of the
And, today, here are several brutal 'Christian militias' in our world: the
Serbs; Sharon's allies, the 'Christian Militia' of southern Lebanon which
continue to war against the Palestinians; and of course, militant IRA
But most Muslims outside the West view the American and British as
What, then, does the New Testament teach about physical warfare and the
Kingdom of God? Initially, we note that Jesus Himself clearly distinguishes
between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Caesar: "Give therefore to the
emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are
God's." (Matthew 22:21).
With the coming of Jesus the Messiah the Kingdom of God has come. He comes
not to abolish God's Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). He summarizes the
Law as love for God and love for the neighbour: '"You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your
mind." This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like
it: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus' disciples are
to follow the way of Jesus. They are to have the mind of Jesus the Messiah,
to look at the world, the people of all nations, and even their own enemies
through the eyes of Jesus. They will share God's message of reconciliation,
forgiveness of sin, new life and eternal peace through Jesus with all. Their
motivation will be His love and their means His means. On the basis of the
New Testament there is no place for the sword for advancing the Kingdom of
I have been privileged to visit several Muslim-majority countries and talk
to experienced missionaries there. They say: 'The only way to win Muslims to
Christ, is through compassion and loving service. This shocks them. Direct
preaching or impersonal charity is of little use!'
I believe it is important to immerse oneself in all sides of the question.
On our JMM
website there are many articles on world events/ Islam - Noam Chomsky on the
left to Melbourne journalist Andrew Bolt on the right.
'People tend towards violence if they were oppressed themselves'. 'Hurt
people hurt people.' How does that work on a global scale?
What do you think of Martin Luther King's statement about the church being
the 'conscience' of the state?
Stanley Hauerwas: 'The world changed, not so much on September 11 2001 but
in 33 A.D. The question is how to narrate what happened on Sept. 11 in light
of what happened in 33 A.D.'
The Arabs had an advanced civilization while Europeans lived in caves. Now
it's somewhat reversed. Why?
Talk about 'ethnic inferiority'. Where does it come from? Why does it cause
so much rage?
Do you know any Muslims, asylum-seekers, etc. in your area? How about
meeting them, and listening to their stories?
Why not ask a Muslim converted to Christianity to your group to tell her/his
Discuss this, from Noam Chomsky: 'The coordinator of the United Nations
programs, Denis Halliday, a highly respected UN official who resigned under
protest because he was being compelled to carry out what he called
"genocidal acts," as did his successor Hans von Sponeck. It's agreed on all
sides that the effect of the sanctions has been to strengthen Saddam Hussein
and to devastate the population.the (then) Secretary of State, Madeleine
Albright. You'll recall, I'm sure, that she was asked on national television
a couple years ago about how she felt about the fact that she had killed
half a million Iraqi children. She didn't deny the factual allegation. She
agreed that it was, as she put it, "a high price," but said, "we think it's
worth it". That was the end of the discussion. Saddam Hussein is a monster.
In fact if you listen to Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, or
almost anyone who comments on this, they justify the sanctions repeatedly by
saying that this man is such a monster that we just can't let him survive.
He's even committed the ultimate atrocity-namely, using weapons of mass
destruction against his own people in his horrendous gassing of the Kurds.'
And this: 'Ultimately hard-line fundamentalism represents a defeat, because
when people are so fearful, so threatened, they tend to accentuate those
aggressive aspects of their faith or their scripture and downplay those that
speak of compassion and justice. In our response we must stress compassion.'
Talk about a huge problem facing all western countries: asylum seekers.
Hardliners: If people invade your country's borders illegally, lock them up.
Others: Asylum seekers should have their applications for residence
processed quickly and if incarcerated it should be
humane and as brief as possible. (In Australia, we lock up Afghans or
Iraqis in detention centres, but never people like Jews, or white
Zimbabweans: why is that?).
Discuss England's use of poison gas against the Kurds and Afghans and
Churchill's role in it. The British use of poison gas had been suppressed
for many years. Records were released, including Churchill's enthusiasm,
around 1980 (see the Noam Chomsky article on the JMM website).
And finally, this: Dr. Fawad Gerges, a Mideast specialist who teaches at
Sarah Lawrence College in the U.S. said that since September 11th the U.S.
has been profoundly changed, and that this has resulted in considerable fear
and loathing of Islam by many Americans.
Moreover, Gerges said that this situation was reflected by a "reverse mirror
image" in the Arab world, where there is deepening anti-
American sentiment, not just among radical Islamists, but among the general
Citing a Gallup poll on Muslim/Arab and American attitudes since Sept. 11th
(which polled people in nine predominantly Muslim Arab nations in December
and January), Gerges noted that 69% of Arabs harbor deep resentments toward
U.S. foreign policy, and that despite American efforts to make the case for
the war on terrorism, 77% were against the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Even more surprising, 72% of Arabs said that they did not believe that
Muslims were behind the Sept. 11th attacks, often citing the widely
held Mideastern theory that the Israelis were most likely the agents
ultimately responsible. Gerges noted that Muslim antagonism toward
the U.S. was principally due to American foreign policy and not based on
cultural or religious issues, such as jealously of American
prosperity or an anti-Christian bias. According to the Gallup poll, the two
nations with the most positive attitude toward the United
States were Lebanon and Turkey.
[Spokesperson for Evangelical Alliance. See
Andrew Bolt on Islam:
Bill Clinton, BBC, Sir Richard Dimbleby Lecture, November 2001
Forgiveness in Conflict Resolution:
Jihad in Islam: Is Islam Peaceful or Militant?
Rowland Croucher, May 2002