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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Madness of Gaddafi

Frontpage

The true face of Libyan “humanitarianism” reared its ugly head again this week at the unlikely venue of the African Heads of State Summit in Uganda. Only two weeks after sending a ship of supplies to Gaza, ostensibly out of “humanitarian” concern for the curious Palestinian suffering under Israel’s alleged tyranny, Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi showed his personal understanding of compassion at the international conference, attended by about 30 African leaders, when he slapped an aide in public.

Gaddafi engaged in this act, which appeared to be completely normal behaviour on his part, when his protocol people brought him to the wrong conference building at a luxury resort outside of Kampala, Uganda’s capital, where the summit was held from July 25 to July 27. According to the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, Gaddafi had climbed halfway up the incorrect venue’s staircase before being informed of his error by a Ugandan presidential guard. This caused a discussion in Arabic between Gaddafi and one of his aides which ended with the Libyan dictator slapping the aide on both cheeks. Journalists who hurried to take a picture were blocked from doing so by his bodyguards.

An hour later, Gaddafi arrived at the correct venue but, according to The Nation, left the meeting after 30 minutes, ordering his aides to make him tea on a charcoal stove outside in the garden. Attracted by the unusual activity, it was reported other delegates and journalists started to crowd around and take his picture. But this only caused another temper tantrum by Gaddafi who “angrily lifted his chair and hid amongst the flowers.” His bodyguards proceeded to set up a security perimeter around the garden.

This was not the end, however, of the Libyan delegation’s egregious behaviour. Twice during the conference Gaddafi’s gaggle of bodyguards got into pushing and shoving matches with Ugandan security personnel responsible for the summit’s security. At the entrance to one of the venues, the scuffles, witnessed by other delegates, only ceased when the Libyan ambassador to Uganda yelled: “Don’t fight! Don’t fight!”

This week’s stopover was actually an improvement over Gaddafi’s visit to Uganda in 2008 to open the Gaddafi Mosque in Kampala that Libyan funds had built. Prior to the opening ceremony, Gaddafi’s bodyguards tried to disarm the security detachments of the other invited heads of state, including that of the host Ugandan president, who was thrown against a wall during the resulting melee that, according to one report, nearly saw guns pulled. Like at this week’s conference, Gaddafi was reported to have been oblivious to the chaos around him.

A similar “mighty scuffle” also ensued in South Africa in 2002 at the inauguration for the new African Union after 200 fully-armed Libyan bodyguards, looking like “a small army of invasion,” alighted from their Boeing 737. Only after the Libyan guards had left most of their weapons behind were they allowed into the country. A normal security contingent for a head of state, according to one report, usually numbers about ten.

Gaddafi is best known in the West as a main sponsor of state terrorism in the 1980s. He sent his assassins to Europe to kill Libyan dissidents and was responsible in 1984 for the death of British police constable, Yvonne Fletcher, who was killed by gunfire from inside the Libyan embassy in London. The Lockerbie Bombing of December 21, 1988 was also Gaddafi’s handiwork and is still making headlines as more details are revealed surrounding the controversial release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. Al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was found guilty in the deaths of 270 people when a bomb destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland.

However, the “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution,” as Gaddafi is called in Libyan publications, overreached himself when he had a discotheque bombed in Berlin in 1986, killing two US servicemen. President Ronald Reagan wasted little time in hitting Libya with a retaliatory air strike, from which Gaddafi himself barely escaped alive.

But less well known is Gaddafi’s insulting treatment of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When Gaddafi’s efforts to lead the Arab world were frustrated, he turned to the continent’s poorer areas where his oil wealth gives him influence and leverage over other African leaders. His greatest dream in this area is to create a United States of Africa with himself, of course, as its leader. When speaking to the UN General Assembly last year, for example, he offered greetings on behalf of all of Africa, although he is only Libya’s president.

Unfortunately for Gaddafi, his dream of self-aggrandizement has been blocked by African countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Rather than a dream, these states see nothing but a nightmare for Africa in a quick transformation to a single government, Gaddafi’s stated goal. Besides, the corrupt oligarchies ruling some African states would never give up the power that creates the opportunities for their personal enrichment.

Gaddafi has circumvented this opposition by currying favour with tribal and cultural rulers in different African countries. Last September, for example, Gaddafi paid for 22 Kenyan tribal elders to fly to Libya. In his quest for “a throne of his own”, in 2008 in Libya, he even had an assembly of such native leaders, “sultans, chiefs, kings and princes”, bestow on him the title of “King of Kings.”

While such antics appear laughable, observers note some African leaders are uneasy that elements in their society, some of which are unfriendly towards their national governments, have access to Libya’s huge financial resources. They well remember Gaddafi’s interference in African civil wars of the past, including his strong support for Ugandan dictator and mass murderer Idi Amin, whom Libyan troops defended during the Tanzanian invasion that toppled him.

Already, Gaddafi is suspected of having a hand in the Uganda’s Buganda riots of last September in order to undermine President Museveni, one of his African unity project’s staunchest opponents. Gaddafi also insulted Museveni and Ugandan Christians on his 2008 visit when he called the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah fakes. Besides attempting to promote division between Uganda’s majority Christian community and minority Muslim community, it was pointed out Gaddafi knew Museveni and other sub-Saharan African leaders were sworn into the office on the Bible.

Such brutal and offensive behaviour contains the real danger when the wealthy Gaddafi comes to poor African countries, flexing his muscles. The Libyan leader’s inflammatory and dangerous remarks could well spark the next devastating African conflict of tomorrow.  And for that, he deserves more than a slap.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Islam needs more tolerance, not more mosques

NEWSWEEK

One has to wonder how long the U.S. will continue to tip toe around its relationship with Islam and Muslims. There seems to be so many situations in which anything to do with Islam is treated with kid gloves by politicians and the politically correct in fear of offending its members. If it had been Jewish terrorists who had attacked the twin Towers, would the building of a synagogue at the site even be in anyone's fantasy? I strongly doubt it. Yet, when Muslims are involved in terrorism, so many of our politicians want to pretend Islam had nothing to do with it. They need to wake up and listen to what the terrorists and their hate filled are saying.

Religious fundamentalism, the view that my religion is the only "right" one and everyone else must believe like me, has been the cause of hatred and violence in the name of religion for millennia. Although the justification for violence against nonbelievers has rarely if ever been a majority worldview of any religion, its destructiveness has far outweighed its numbers. Throughout much of the history of the last two thousand years, Christians and Muslims have been the primary perpetrators of a violent fundamentalist world view. Each has seen goodness only identified with itself and thus has justified its raping, pillaging, and destruction of other peoples and cultures all over the world. Their hatred has not only been directed at non-believers but at members of their own traditions who disagree with their narrow belief systems.

Yet, when fundamentalists have been criticized, they have typically shown very thin skin and have often reacted violently. In some ways, fundamentalist Christians and Muslims have historically acted like spoiled children who always have to have their own way. Unfortunately, unlike spoiled children, religious fundamentalists cannot be put on "time out" or sent to bed early. Instead, throughout much of their respective histories, fundamentalists of both religions have sought annihilate all other religious worldviews and their adherents as well.

During the last few centuries, fundamentalist Christians have, for the most part, removed overt violence from their approach to the rest of the world. Although their narrow mindedness has remained, most now use words instead of weapons to push their beliefs, and most other Christians adhere to a much more tolerant and reasoned view of others. Moreover, many Christians today are active promoters of peace and tolerance all over the world. At the same time, however, Muslim fundamentalists have increased their use of violence in both rhetoric and action, while moderate Muslims are rarely heard, either because of fear of or sympathy with their fundamentalist brethren. The responses by much of the world during the past few decades to this increased level of violence have been to attempt to assuage Muslim terrorism by giving its fundamentalist perpetrators what they want. The general approach of many U.S. politicians has followed suit. Acting in this manner is like trying to extinguish a fire by throwing wood on it.

Religious tolerance in the U.S. has increased a great deal over the decades, but as long as Islam continues to be treated differently than other religions, and fundamentalists are given a pass, most Americans will want to have little or nothing to do with the religion or its members. There are those who say that we are the ones at fault, we need to better understand Muslims and Islam, and the planned center and mosque near Ground Zero will help in that process. Actually, our politicians need to stop making excuses for the violence fundamentalist Islam supports, and its perpetrators need to start making room for the rest of the world in their currently narrow and hate filled version of reality. Those who say Americans need to better understand Islam need to rethink the problem. They should direct their efforts instead to attempting to teach fundamentalist Muslims the concept of tolerance of others first, since they are the source of the problem. That would be the best way to begin to inspire non-Muslims in the U.S. and the rest of the world to change their view of the tradition and to see beyond its violence for the good it can hopefully offer the rest of the world.

“The attacks on Christianity are outrageous. There are so many problems with the article that it would take too long to pick through them all, the entire premise is wrong. There is nothing wrong with religious fundamentalism if the person is following a good religion! And as for the history, people slander Christians when they try to claim that Christians were violent. In every single age there have been pacifist fundamentalist Christians. That there were violent people who happened to be Christian does not condemn Christianity. They were not acting in the name of Christianity, it was largely political issues that drove the movements people like to condemn. In the case of the Crusades - THEY WERE A RESPONSE TO THE ISLAMIC JIHAD! Islam, whose doctrines do specifically require violence in the name of Islam, first invaded and subjugated the historical Christian and Jewish lands of the Middle East and North Africa etc. etc. That Christians finally fought back, too little too late, is nothing to condemn them for, they should be applauded. If they had done more, the World Trade Center would still be standing today, the Jews would be living in peace in Israel, and many other peoples would be free in their historic lands rather than living in fear under the jack boot of Islam. Islam used and uses violence to conquer and control and we see that today as we live. It should not be allowed in the West if the West wants to survive and remain free.”

MORE COMMENTS

Somali Islamic group cracks down on TV sets

REUTERS

Somali Islamist rebels have ordered residents in areas they control to hand over televisions and satellite dishes, warning that anyone who did not would be considered a spy, residents said on Monday.

The affected region is largely controlled by the al Shabaab group, a rebel militia linked to al Qaeda which enforces a harsh version of sharia law that includes banning school bells, ringtones on cell phones and music on radios.

Members of the militia group, which has also banned watching football and films, have warned residents through loud speakers mounted on vehicles in towns across southern and central Somalia to give up their TV sets before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starts in mid-August.

"Families were told to surrender their television sets and satellite dishes. They are afraid some of us may use them as private channels for communication," Abshir, a resident of Buula-barde, told Reuters.

"In the past, we could not watch games or films as we wanted. Now, we cannot have TV sets at all," he said, declining to give his second name for safety reasons.

Another resident in Bardale, a town 60 km north of Baidoa, said they were informed of the decision at a public gathering late on Friday. "We are not happy to handover our belongings to someone else," said the resident who did not want to be named.

The warning scared residents who are familiar with the group that previously carried out death sentences on dozens of people accused of espionage for the government or foreign troops.

One legislator from Buula-barde said the radical group, which claimed responsibility for bombings in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that killed 76 people this month, were watching developments an African Union summit in the city for any possible offensive.

"They are monitoring closely the discussion at the summit and cautious that African troops may leave the defensive positions after the Kampala bombing," legislator Osman Mohamed said.

"They are oppressing our people using a poor excuse that residents may be spies, but that is not the case. This is the beginning of series attempts to control information, and create the fear among the people."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Somali Muslim men assault a Christian man in Ethiopia

ICC

nternational Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 16 five Somali Muslim men assaulted and seriously injured  a Christian man in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for reading a book critical of the Prophet Muhammad.
 
Mike Abdul Falahow, a Christian convert from Islam, was reading The Great Deception: How Muhammad Tried to Win Christians for Islam, when two Somali Muslims demanded that he surrender the book, saying that it was offensive and attacked the honor of the Prophet Muhammad. The book is a critical study of Sura Al Imran 3:33-64 in the Qur’an.
 
Falahow refused to surrender the book and reminded them that they were living in Addis Ababa and not in Mogadishu, and therefore had religious freedom.
 
One of the Muslim men attempted to seize the book from Falahow’s grasp, but when he failed, he proceeded to punch and kick Falahow. Four other Muslim men joined in, ganging up on Falahow and beating him mercilessly.
 
Falahow suffered injuries that included a broken leg and cuts to his face. Currently, he is recovering in a safe house provided by the Somali Christian community in Addis Ababa. The incident has been reported to the police.
 
A Somali church leader in Addis Ababa spoke to ICC, describing the attacks as “a brutal attempt to subdue the growing Somali Christian community in Addis Ababa.”
 
This is not the first time that Somali Muslims have attacked Somalis who converted to Christianity in Addis Ababa. However, this is the first time that such an attack took place in a crowded public place.
 
Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said “Several Somali Christians have been killed by Islamic radicals in Somalia and many have left their country due to the persecution they face. Sadly, they don’t escape from persecution even after they leave their country. We urge Ethiopian authorities to stop the attempt by Islamists to import their violent ideologies from Somalia. The mistreatment of Christian converts will get worse unless the authorities take action against the individuals responsible for attacking Falahow.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Indonesian Muslims facing Africa during prayers

AP

People in the world's most populous Muslim nation have been facing Africa - not Mecca - while praying.

Indonesia's highest Islamic body acknowledged Monday it made a mistake when issuing an edict in March saying the holy city in Saudi Arabia was to the country's west. It has since asked followers to shift direction slightly northward during their daily prayers.

"After a thorough study with some cosmography and astronomy experts, we learned they've been facing southern Somalia and Kenya," said Ma'ruf Amin, a prominent cleric of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI. "We've revised it now to the northwest."

He said Indonesians need not worry, however: The miscalculation did not affect God's ability to hear their prayers.

"God understands that humans make mistakes," he said. "Allah always hears their prayers."

Indonesia is a secular nation of 237 million people, 90 percent of whom are Muslim, most of them moderate. The influential Ulema Council often issues fatwas, or edicts, including several controversial rulings against smoking and yoga.

Egyptian Christian Mother and her Children Abducted by Veiled Woman

AINA


The role played by Muslim women in the abduction and forced Islamization of Christian females in Egypt is on the rise, with continuously changing methods of deception. Victims are mostly minor Christian girls; however, one of the most recent abductions was a Coptic Christian family.

In the morning of June 29, 2010, 37-years old Coptic mother Nagwa Sargios, left her home in the 10th Ramadan district of Greater Cairo, together with her daughter Marina (17 years) and twin sons Mario and Michael (9 years), to visit her mother in hospital, where she was due for a heart operation.

"My sister and her children never arrived as promised, and their mobile phones were switched off.  Next day we contacted her land line, and my sister's husband said that he thought his family was with us all the time", said Adel Sargios, her brother.

The Sargios family did their own investigations, and after talking with neighbors, they were certain, that his sister's Muslim neighbor and her two daughters Marwa and Asma, all wear Niqabs, (the head-to-toe Muslim veil) were behind Nagwa and her children's disappearance, with the motive of converting them to Islam.  "They must have deceived and lured her and her family away" as the brother puts it.

The information he collected about the Muslim neighbor who is divorced, is that she is a charlatan earning her living by claiming to practice sorcery, which Muslim women believe in its power and have recourse to it.

The police refused to issue a report as 'abduction' as they considered the Christian family to be only "missing".

After the incident, the Muslim neighbor and her two daughters have abandoned their flat, empty of all furnishings and belongings.

The Sargios family did their own investigations again, successfully tracing the whereabouts of the Niqab-clad family.  The information was relayed to the state security officer who insisted on visiting them alone.  However, when he returned to the police station he told the family  that the  Muslim woman is innocent, and that they should look somewhere else. "This way the investigation would deal with it as a "missing" persons case and we have to look further for another culprit," said Adel Sargios .

Top attorney Dr. Naguib Gobrail, president of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization (EUHRO), who got involved in the case through the Sargios family, contacted  state security in the presence of the family. "The officer assured me that Nagwa and her children are with state security, and that she did not convert to Islam," he said.

The officer also told Gobrail that the family could go and collect their daughter and her children the next day.

When the family went to state security, with an activist from Euhro, the officer denied having said anything of this sort to Dr. Gobrail, and denied knowing the whereabouts of the missing family.

According to Dr. Gobrail there have been attempts to convert Nagwa Sargios to Islam "by her veiled neighbor, but she rejected these attempt and stuck to her Christian religion," reported Copts United.

"To our surprise, we learnt from our sources that the abduction of my sister and her family was being planned for since two years," the brother said.

Adel Sargios accused the state security of  delaying and lying about everything for three weeks. "I am certain that the officer is an accomplice,  he is giving time to the abductors to move Nagwa and her family somewhere far," he commented.

Coptic Activist Medhat Kelada, believes that the Islamization of Copts is a business which represents a permanent source of livelihood for state security officials, "Especially with the flow of funds from the rich and extremist Wahhabis who try to Islamize the Egyptian Copts with the help of some of the security service officers", he said.

While looking for his sister and the Niqab-clad woman in the area, "We found tens of Coptic girls abducted from 10th Ramadan district, and they even came back to live there after converting to Islam and getting married to Muslims. Their defenseless Coptic families, who feel humiliated and infuriated, are threatened by state security not to open their mouth," Adel said.

The abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls, which has started nearly 30 years ago, is a lucrative business for Muslims, whether they are the brokers, abductors or state security officials, who do their best to protect those involved in the crime. Price of a Coptic girl varies according to her looks and her family' social status. (http://www.aina.org/news/20090718111414.htm)

Magdy Khalil, political analyst and researcher in Coptic affairs believes that abduction of Coptic girls is an organized crime, carried out through an organized and pre-planned process by associations and organizations inside Egypt with domestic and Arab funding.

Adel said that his older brother Ashraf has been intimidated by state security and he himself has received numerous threats on his mobile phone not to pursue the matter further or talk about the incident in chat rooms on the internet. "I will never give up, whatever they do.  My family has already lost four of its members, it does not matter if they also lose a fifth."

On July 19, 2010, the Coptic family filed a report with the police officially accusing the Muslim neighbor of abducting Nagwa and her three children.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Muslim Preachers, Missionaries, Scholars, Mullahs, & Imams leave Islam and enter Christianity

JOURNEYTOORTHODOX.COM

Ex-Muslim Scholar’s Book Refutes Islam

A former leading Muslim scholar has written a book refuting the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion, despite fears for his life.

While many people have been arguing that those behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks do not represent true Islam, Mark Gabriel has been putting the finishing touches to a study that analyzes Muslim history and looks at what he says are the roots of violence in the Quran.

But his scrutiny of his faith led him to discover Islam’s dark underside. He could not understand why Islamic nations had been so violent toward one another through history, and he wrestled with the many contradictions he found in the Quran.
“I became very confused between the teachings of Islam and the Muslim practice of Islam,” he recalled. “This was a very big issue to me, but I was not allowed to question anything. No one is.”

Gabriel’s questioning led to his suspension from the school and eventual imprisonment. “I didn’t know where to turn,” he said.

“I had always been told that Christianity is the wrong faith because they believe in three gods. So, for a year I was without a god.”

While working for his father, Gabriel developed chronic headaches and started visiting a local pharmacy for help. The pharmacist, a Christian, finally asked what was wrong because she feared that he was becoming addicted to the medication.
He told her he had been searching for the true God.

“She smiled and said, ‘I don’t think this is something you can deal with by taking tablets,’” he said. “She handed me her Bible and made me promise not to take any more tablets until I had at least read some of it.”

He took the Bible home and started reading in the book of Luke.

“I lost all track of time,” he remembered. “It felt like I was sitting on a cloud above a hill, and in front of me was the greatest teacher telling me about the secrets of heaven and the heart of God.”

Gabriel gave his life to Christ. But when his father learned of the conversion, he tried to shoot his son. Gabriel’s sister and mother helped him flee the country. He made his way to South Africa, where he received discipleship training with Youth With a Mission. Because of continued threats on his life, he was forced to move to the United States last year, seeking religious asylum.


Summary and Direct Links to So-far Posted “High-Profile Converts to Christianity from Islam”

Muslim preacher converts to Orthodoxy

JOURNEYTOORTHODOX.COM

We’re speaking in London with a new Orthodox Christian who was baptized today with the name Daniel. Daniel is not a Muslim name, far from it [actually, it does exist as a Muslim name, but it’s quite rare]. Although information about his conversion will inevitably circulate among the Muslims of London, for reasons of security we will not deliberately give details about this subject because there are very often cases of threats and violence and sometimes even murders perpetrated by fanatics. That said, Daniel’s experience is very precious for the Orthodox. Fr. Nicholas Savtchenko, interim rector of the Church of the Dormition (ROCOR) in London speaks with him.

Daniel, please tell us about yourself.

For many years I was a zealous Muslim, as were my wife and children. I was born in the UK, but during my life I have travelled a lot in Muslim countries. I knew both British and Muslim culture. I lived in Saudi Arabia, where I studied theology and contributed to the Muslim mission among foreign laborers. I also spent time in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, in Pakistan, and in the Pakistani part of Kashmir. I also spent time in Bosnia.

In recent years, I’ve been living with my family in London, where, some time ago, I became the Muslim representative in a well-known inter-religious organization dedicated to peace. For the past two years, I was an advisor on Islam to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Two days ago, I called him to tell him I was entering Orthodoxy in the Russian Church.

What was his attitude?

Oh… The Archbishop of Canterbury was very happy. Once, he told me that recently two of his employees in the personnel department of the Anglican Church had been received into Orthodox churches: he respects their choice and they will continue their work in the administration of the Anglican Church.

What led you to Christ?

The first time that I had the desire to study the New Testament in detail was when I was in front of the Kaaba in Mecca—I lived for a time in Mecca. Christian literature is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia and many websites are even blocked, but with the development of modern communications, it is not difficult for those who are looking to find the Word of God. After a time, I tried to convince and American who was working in the Saudi capital to convert to Islam.

When I spoke to him, he responded with much courage and conviction. I was surprised by his courage, because in Saudi Arabia a man who preaches Christianity can easily be killed. Conversations with Christians in Saudi Arabia were very important for me. As someone associated with the Islamic mission in Arabia, I encountered many foreigners. I always remarked that in most cases, people converted to Islam, not because it was their free choice, but in order to keep working in Saudi Arabia and to obtain a release from the taxes imposed on non-Muslims.

The fact is that the salaries of non-Muslims are lower than those of Muslims because of the need to pay a special tax, set by Muhammad.

Salaries for Christians in Saudi Arabia are rather low, and some convert to Islam in order to earn more money. The majority of Filipinos who return home immediately renounce Islam. I began to explore Christianity even more and, little by little, I sensed its superiority over Islam.

I first consciously encountered Orthodoxy in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Unfortunately, the priests in Sarajevo did not speak English and I could not really express what I wanted. After waiting for a group of Imams to pass by, I went into the Serbian church and I felt the astonished look of the Serbian priest when I made the sign of the cross in the Orthodox way and I made a prostration onto the ground. Then I knew that Orthodoxy was, of all the Christian confessions, the closest to me.

I studied Christianity and Orthodoxy even more, reading books and watching films. I also liked the movie Ostrov (the Island). Slowly, I decided to ask for baptism in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Finally, we hear growing reports of the propagation of Christian missions in Muslim countries. Is it considerable in these countries?

I agree that there are many secret Christians in Saudi Arabia. Several times I myself have encountered people who were probably secret Christians. We need to understand that in Saudi Arabia and other countries, maybe the majority of Muslims go to the mosque not because their faith encourages them to, but because they are obliged to do so under the pressure of laws and customs. Visiting the mosque becomes a burden. Muslims of today are rather less religious than people in the Christian world believe. In Muslim countries, there are many mosques and they say prayers there five times a day, but besides on Friday no one goes to the mosque.

Other than on Friday, in any mosque at the time of prayer, you won’t see more than five men, even though there are many homes inhabited by Muslims around it.

Most Muslims don’t go to the mosque even on Friday. Some start going during Ramadan, but after the fast they disappear until the next year. In the mosque, once a week during Ramadan there are maybe a hundred people, even though there could be thousands, and after Ramadan there won’t be more than five people. In Muslim countries, many people search for truth and it’s because of this that the Christian mission will grow.

Most promote Christianity among friends, and recently there have been television networks and many more internet sites dedicated to mission among Muslims. In general, many Muslims distance themselves from Islam and this is especially visible in Western countries. In Great Britain, many Muslims have converted to Christianity. In the Anglican Church, Muslims who have adopted Christianity are estimated at a hundred thousand people. Many of them are Pakistanis. They have their own Christian churches and are forced to hide because of the danger of reprisals from the Muslims. There are also Arab and Bengali converts to Christianity. Very many convert because of mixed marriages.

Recently in the press there have been reports about the strong growth of Islam in western countries and they have even claimed that the number of Muslim faithful will soon overtake the number of parishioners in Christian churches. It seems strange that the press has mentioned the number of Muslims, of faithful in mosques, many times greater than the capacity of the mosques themselves! But that is not mentioned in the press. What is the truth?

The presence of mosques in the UK is very weak. Most Muslims won’t ever go to a mosque. The young people have effectively left Islam, even if they say that they’re still Muslims. In the mosques they don’t find a common language with the Imams from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Young people can barely speak Urdu or Bengali but only English.

Many are ashamed of Islam because of terrorism. Our inter-religious council investigated mosque attendance and we know what the real picture is and it is especially alarming for Islam, but it is to the advantage of certain people to present Islam as an immense force.

If one takes the list of mosques in Muslim publications, for example, in West London, we find that there are twenty mosques and much free space in each of these mosques, even though the number of people of Muslim origins in London is such that they would need even more mosques if a majority went. In one large mosque in London there might be three hundred people for Friday prayers. Many mosques are just small halls that are only used on Friday. In general, believers are very rare in mosques and most are children who bring their parents. When they grow, they disappear. Christianity offers a free choice, thus it is much better adapted to life in a climate of tolerance, and Islam is unable to pass this test.

The media talks about the adoption of Islam by many British people. Muslims make an almost triumphant image of Islam in the West. However, the real number of British in the Muslim population is very small, only around 1200 people. How do you understand this contradiction?

It is not a simple question. I was a part of the Islamic mission to the British and I can say that the number of converts is minimal. At Friday prayers in the center of London, the number of British Muslims at the mosque is maybe one percent. Outside of London, they don’t even reach this number. All the Muslims know the real number of converts to Islam. There are those who accept Islam because of marriage to Muslims.

These British will never go to mosques and their acceptance of Islam is a formality. Very often they remain in practice Christians. Most of those who accept Islam because of marriage are women. Additionally, many descendants of Muslims immigrants to Britain consider themselves British but could not be considered to be ‘British Muslims’ in the full sense.

I’ve spoken a lot to women who divorced their Muslim husbands, and I can say from memory that in London there are maybe 25 British women who have remained Muslim after divorcing their Muslim husband. But, as a general rule, mixed marriages lead to an estrangement from Islam. The Islamic mission in the West has not been successful. In London, there is an organization of missionaries dedicated to the preaching of Islam.

They are mostly youths. But, they realize their mission among Muslim immigrants because it’s much more effective, and the British do not convert to Islam. When some Muslims say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, London imams say that this growth is primarily because of the fertility rate, but there is no real mission. I do not doubt that Christianity is much stronger in terms of mission.

Are there many Muslims who convert to Christianity in Great Britian?

On the one hand, there are very many. This happens without any publicity. In effect, according to most schools of Islam an apostate from Islam should be executed, even though the imams of the chief mosques of London say that they cannot be executed for apostasy from Islam.

However, on the other hand, we can say that there are very few, since many Muslims simply abandon their faith and become unbelievers. Unbelief is an illness common to all. Certain Muslims try to present atheism and the absence of religion as characteristics of Christian civilization, but Muslims themselves, even more than Christians, lose their faith in the Western world. However, there is the very good example of Russia and the other Orthodox countries where the Church is growing, even with freedom of choice. I hope one day to go to Russia, but in the meantime I need to rebuild my life as an Orthodox Christian.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The coming crusade

NEW YORK POST, by Ralph Peters

African Christians Vs. Islamists

The Islamists have it wrong: Islam isn't the world's fastest-growing religion. By birth numbers and convert tallies, it's Christianity.

And Africa's at the forefront -- a fact that going to body-slam Muslim extremists sooner or later.

The bombings that recently butchered World Cup fans in Uganda were just the latest in a long line of crazed attacks on African Christians by Islamist fanatics. In the central states of Nigeria -- Africa's most-populous country -- religious pogroms and counter-pogroms between Muslims and Christians have become routine.

In Kenya, al Shabaab terrorists from neighboring Somalia stir up trouble and make grotesque threats. And we all know what bestial acts Sudan's Islamist government has perpetrated against black Christians over the decades.

Throughout the region, patience is wearing thin. Africa's impassioned forms of charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity won't turn the other cheek forever. The coming backlash could be ferocious (even dictatorships could exploit a vengeful popular mood).

The Islamist imperialists pushing to expand in Africa would do well to recall that Christianity has historical claims on such states as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Are they ready for mass violence aimed at a rollback? Or state conflicts?

A few years back, during one of four major research trips to sub-Saharan Africa, I visited the traditionally Muslim city of Mombassa on the old Swahili (Arab-slaver's) coast in Kenya. What I found was one of the sharpest religious juxtapositions I've seen in global travels.

Thanks to Saudi funding folly, there were far too many mosques for the congregants, so few hit critical mass. Islam in Mombassa felt sleepy, dusty and dull.

Kenya's Muslims were backward and listless. Condemned to poverty by poor educations (the Saudis pay Muslims to send their children to madrassahs, instead of to state schools), their culture seemed out of steam.

But Christianity blazed. Mega-churches couldn't contain all those who'd accepted Jesus as their Savior: City parks were packed with ecstatic worshippers every Sunday.

All along east Africa's Swahili Coast -- once a necklace of gems on the body of Islam -- the faith of Mohammed seemed like a museum exhibit in a neglected side room. The Christians -- from tribes Muslims had enslaved -- were the rising power.

As far as converts go, Muslims are being baptized (at great personal risk), but Christians aren't converting to Islam. Wahhabi Islam's rejection of joy just doesn't speak to Africans -- who even in misfortune seem incomparably alive.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the old mysticism of folk religion glides easily into charismatic Christianity, but collides head-on with the intolerance of Wahhabism.

When I reached West Africa in later travels, it struck me that Islam never managed to penetrate the forests -- and not for lack of trying.

Forests, as we know from fairy tales, are the abode of magic -- for which Sunni Islam has no space. Africans can interpret Jesus as the greatest of conjurers, a worker of miracles, a miracle himself. Wahhabism, with its barracks regulations, can't compete.

I've never witnessed such religious fervor as I did in sub-Saharan Africa, from Zimbabwe north through Kenya and west to the Gold Coast. When Islamist terrorists attack African Christians, they're playing with a fire that burns white hot.

Pushed far enough, Christians will respond -- and it won't be pretty. The African church could become the church-ultra-militant.

Of course, a Christian crusade in response to jihad would be just fine with many Saudis and Gulf Arabs. They don't care about the suffering of individual Muslims -- only about Islam.

Thus the Saudis fund the provocative construction of mosques where there are few or no Muslims, from western Tanzania to eastern Tennessee. Every mosque helps stake a claim for the dar ul-Islam, extending the boundaries of the caliphate about which Islamists fantasize.

Meanwhile, the shared goal of the Saudis, al Qaeda, the Taliban and Somalia's al Shabaab is to prevent Muslims from integrating into non-Muslim host societies. In Kenya, a successful Muslim population that interacted and intermarried would be the worst outcome to Islam's commissars. Massacre would be preferable. And a violent Christian reaction would serve as propaganda to recruit the Islamist foot-soldiers who strap on the suicide bombs.

As radical Islam's hallucinatory ambitions continue to expand, the potential for tragedy on a grand scale soars. Religious strife could tear Nigeria apart, but elsewhere in Africa Muslims would swiftly find themselves on the losing end.

In Islamist extremism, we're confronted with a death-cult, not a faith -- while the vibrant Christianity of Africa pulses with life.

The collision appears inevitable.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Endless War."

Special Prayer Organized in NY for Eritrea’s Best-Known Prisoner of Conscience

The Eritrean Orthodox Church – Archdiocese of North America – is organizing a special prayer for His Holiness Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Abune Antonios remains under the most stringent house arrest since January 2006. The event will take place in a special Holy Liturgy on Saturday, July 24, 2010 at Archangels Greek Orthodox Church, 1527 Bedford Street Stamford, CT- 06905

According to sources in the archdiocese, the special prayer will be offered for the canonically legitimate patriarch and the other church fathers that have remained in prison for the past six years without being charged with any criminal offenses. No one knows the whereabouts of the patriarch and the thousands of prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, as they have never been visited by either the International Red Cross or family members.

The special prayer will be attended by His Eminence Bishop Seraphim, Metropolitan of the British Orthodox Church.  Metropolitan Seraphim has been an unwavering champion of Patriarch Antonios’ cause and that of all the other persecuted Christians in Eritrea. In addition, H. G. Bishop Mekarios, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Archdiocese of North America and that of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (North America Archdiocese), as well as H.G. Bishop David, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Archdiocese of North America, will be present. Many Eritrean priests, deacons and laity from across North America are expected to take part in this special prayer.

For details of the event, visit the website of the diocese: www.tewahdo.org

Machete attackers kill Nigerian priest's family

REUTERS

Raiders armed with machetes killed the family of a Nigerian Christian priest and set fire to his church in central Plateau state Saturday, close to where hundreds have died in religious violence this year.

Residents said unknown assailants attacked the family of Rev. Nuhu Dawat in the early hours in the farming village of Mazah, around 12 km (7 miles) from the state capital of Jos, killing his wife, two children and grandson.

Dawat himself ran and hid when the attack occurred and was the sole survivor in his household. "I leave everything to God to judge," a sobbing Dawat told Reuters.

At least four other people were also killed in the attack, a military spokesman said. A Reuters witness said many of the bodies were slashed with what appeared to be machete blows and one was burned beyond recognition.

Military and police patrols have brought the situation under control and the violence has not spread to other villages, said Plateau State Police Commissioner Gregory Anyating.

"We are trying to find out the root causes of the violence," Anyating said. "We have not re-imposed the curfew."

Plateau state government lifted a night-time curfew for Jos and surrounding villages in May. It had first been imposed in November 2008 during post-election violence in Jos but was extended in January following clashes between Christian and Muslim gangs.

The federal authorities deployed troops to Jos after hundreds of people died in January but the military presence and curfew were not enough to prevent further outbreaks of violence in March and April, in which hundreds more people died.

Over the past decade, thousands of people have died in religious and ethnic violence in the "Middle Belt" of central Nigeria, where the Muslim north meets the predominantly Christian south.

The tension is rooted in decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands and for economic and political power with migrants and settlers from the north.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said ensuring peace and stability is a priority.

But analysts fear local political rivals may seek to exploit the divisions in Plateau state in the run-up to nationwide elections due by next April.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

President Obama: al-Shabaab doesn't value African life

ABC News

In an interview earlier today with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, President Obama disparaged al Qaeda and affiliated groups' willingness to kill Africans in a manner that White House aides say was an argument that the terrorist groups are racist.

Speaking about the Uganda bombings, the president said, "What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organizations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself.  They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences for their short-term tactical gains."

Explaining the president's comment, an administration official said Mr. Obama "references the fact that both U.S. intelligence and past al Qaeda actions make clear that al Qaeda -- and the groups like al Shabaab that they inspire -- do not value African life. The actions of al Qaeda and the groups that it has inspired show a willingness to sacrifice innocent African life to reach their targets."

This can be seen, the official said, in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, when hundreds of Africans were killed and thousands wounded.

"Additionally, U.S. intelligence has indicated that al Qaeda leadership specifically targets and recruits black Africans to become suicide bombers because they believe that poor economic and social conditions make them more susceptible to recruitment than Arabs," the official said. "Al Qaeda recruits have said that al Qaeda is racist against black members from West Africa because they are only used in lower level operations."

"In short," the official said, "al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life."

The president also said in the interview that "it was so tragic and ironic to see an explosion like this take place when people in Africa were celebrating and watching the World Cup take place in South Africa. On the one hand, you have a vision of an Africa on the move, an Africa that is unified, an Africa that is modernizing and creating opportunities; and on the other hand, you've got a vision of al Qaeda and Al Shabaab that is about destruction and death.

"And I think it presents a pretty clear contrast in terms of the future that most Africans want for themselves and their children," Mr. Obama said. "And we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to support those who want to build, as opposed to want to destroy."

Egyptian convert to Christianity, sings about religious persecution

markdurie.com blog


In a video interview posted on July 8 with Free Christian Voice, Ms Al-Imam reported that she was taken into custody by the Egyptian security forces. The colonel took her by the hair and bashed her head against his desk, which is the reason for the bruises on her face. She also broke a tooth. She says that the colonel tightened the chain around her neck, mocking her cross on the chain, and told her to watch her neck.  She also said that he told her if she dares to come out of her house he will send some "women" and she should be expecting what will happen to her then. She said that she has not worked for the past year and she has been threatened with being deregistered as a lawyer, and false statements have been made on her behalf to defame her.

According to Islamic law, any Muslim who leaves Islam loses custody of their children. The children are to be placed in the custody of a Muslim relative. This is one of the points made in apostasy fatwas (rulings) issued by the Chief Scholar of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute, His Excellency Shaykh Sa‘id Hijjawi, during the time when he was Grand Mufti of Jordan (from 1992-2007).  (The Aal al-Bayt Institute was the sponsor of the Common Word letter to the Christian world.)

Islam is the only world religion which demands that people who leave it should be killed. As a graduate of Al-Azhar university, Ms Al-Imam is an expert in Sharia law.  She knows this.  Also, Ms Al-Imam's decision to sing this song with her children would have been done in the full knowledge that, even if she escapes with her life, she is liable to lose custody of her children. Moreover, as an apostate from Islam, Ms Al-Imam has become a legal non-person.  She would be unable to act in her own defense in a court of law, and has most likely lost any capacity to earn her living as a lawyer.

Ms Al-Imam would have been fully aware of the risk of losing her children when she converted to Christianity.  This video has a similar function to the tattooed cross on the wrists of Coptic Christians:  it is a declaration of faith in Christ no matter what may happen. The fact that her children are singing in this video shows that they share their mother's Christian faith.  She is, I believe, asking the world to pay attention to their fate, and has established a visible witness to the children in the future, should they be taken from her and forced to re-accept Islam.

Nagla Al-Imam has declared on the internet that she will not flee, but is determined to stay in Egypt.

You can sign a petition on line here for the support of the freedom of religion in the Muslim world. Your voice will count in removing the suffering of those who suffer for choosing to follow their conscience by leaving Islam. Please take a moment to sign this petition and pass this message on to others who may be willing to sign.

Christians and Muslims in deadly clashes in Nigeria


RADIO AUSTRALIA


Police say Christians and Muslims have clashed in eastern Nigeria, leaving eight people dead and 40 seriously wounded.

They say six mosques and one church were also torched.

Police say the fight involved Muslim and Christian youths in Wukari, a town in Taraba state and was over the building of a mosque at the local police headquarters.

Taraba state police commissioner Aliyu Musa says a Christian mob opposed to the construction of the mosque set fire to it.

He says the group of Muslims responded by attacking a nearby church, leading to the eruption of violence between the two sides.

Britain’s battle against radical Islam

JERUSALEM POST

Listening to Douglas Murray, one gets a picture of a world turned on its head, one where relativism has trumped common sense, where the state pays its enemies more than its soldiers and where turning in the inciters becomes an act of incitement.

Murray is the 31-year-old director of the Center for Social Cohesion, a London-based think tank that studies radicalization and extremism in the UK, and he is an outspoken critic of the British government’s response to the challenge of radical Islam.

Our meeting takes place shortly after the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks, four suicide bombings committed by British Muslim men that killed 52 people and wounded hundreds of others. Murray believes that while the security services have learned the lesson of that event, government and politicians have so far failed to do so.

Britain’s thinking and its political culture, Murray says, have “gone bad” and it has become afraid to state its own values. Britain has become a society that no longer knows how to draw the line.

He is particularly critical of the government’s “Prevent” strategy, set up after the 7/7 bombings to tackle Muslim radicalization by providing a counternarrative. “Prevent,” says Murray, is an example of the government attempting to “do theology.”

“When the British government comes out after 7/7 and says, ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ you can understand the reasons it is saying this – it is trying to reach out – but obviously there is something terribly counterproductive about this,” says Murray. “The problem is that the government seems to believe it can do theology. I’m a small government guy and I like government to do as little as possible.

The way I see it is that government can’t do many things very well – it doesn’t even do taxes very well, it doesn’t do policing very well, but the thing it definitely can’t do very well is theology, in particular a theology it knows very little about, or is only starting to learn about.”

For Murray the answer lies not in outreach, but in affirming the values of the state and in laying down the law.

“Instead of getting embroiled in endless wars and debates about a religion which is not our national religion, which after all is a minority religion and has no particular history of any significance in Britain – instead of getting involved in that conflict, which may or not be won by the progressives, you say what you are as a state,” he declares.

“A lot of young Muslims have said to me in recent years, ‘You ask me to integrate, but what are we integrating into? What is Britain, what are British values?’ It’s very hard to tell people to integrate if you don’t tell them what they are integrating into. It’s very hard to tell them to be British if they don’t know and you don’t know what Britishness is. The fact is that we have been very poor in saying what we are and we have also been very poor is saying what we expect people to be. We’ve been very good in stressing what rights people get when they come to Britain and very bad at explaining what responsibilities come with them.”

Britain, says Murray, has made a terrible mistake in the direction it has taken with its Muslim minority since the Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses affair.

“The problem is,” he explains, “that the British government has pushed young Muslims into becoming young Muslims when it should have pushed them into becoming young Brits. In other words, the direction of travel it sent them in has been deeply backward.”

MURRAY DESCRIBES himself as a long-standing critic of multiculturalism.

“Pluralism or multiracial societies seem to me to be good and desirable things,” he says. “Multicultural societies, where you encourage group differences, seem to me to be a very bad thing.”

For Murray, multiculturalism is a moral vacuum, and “into a moral vacuum always bad things creep.”

The Eton and Oxford educated Murray quotes Saul Bellow in his introduction to The Closing of the American Mind: “When public morality becomes a ghost town, it’s a place into which anyone can ride and declare himself sheriff.”

“Once so-called multicultural societies decided that they didn’t have a locus, that they didn’t have a center of gravity, anyone could ride in and teach the most pernicious things,” Murray expounds. “It didn’t matter. It was just another point of view.

“It’s an extraordinary situation. We allow absolutely anything. This is the reason the British police used not to investigate certain types of killing, like honor killings. This is a community matter, they’d say. Police have admitted that now. This is why tens of thousands of women from certain communities have been genitally mutilated. We have made ourselves entirely relative and its time to change that.”

Another instance of multiculturalism gone mad that Murray cites is a 2007 case where a Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque, uncovered in the West Midlands clerics who they recorded preaching murder of minorities. The police were sent the tapes by Channel 4 and infamously decided to try to prosecute Channel 4 for incitement in broadcasting this material.

Murray says that a few months after the case, while lecturing senior police officers, he mentioned it and was told by one officer that he “had to understand we live in a very multicultural area.”

Murray replied to the officer that he was basically stating that to pursue the multicultural dream, he would allow certain minorities to have their lives threatened by other minorities because it would cause too much trouble. “He wouldn’t comment,” says Murray, “but this was clearly the decision they had made.”

Murray charges that because of its multicultural approach, the government has allowed certain groups to be approached through self-appointed leaders such as the Muslim Council of Britain.

“In Islam in Britain we have a bizarre situation where people are spoken of, or spoken to, through clergy,” he explains. “If I’m a young man born to Anglican parents, the idea that I can only be accessed via my local vicar is mad, but you now have this weird situation where, as it were, the more religious you are, the more devoted you are to the mosque and to the political organization of certain mosques in Britain, the more likely you are to have a voice.”

Murray paraphrases Henry Kissinger’s famous comment: “What number do I dial to reach Europe?” by saying that the British government has basically decided what number to dial to reach its Muslim minority, handing over the community’s voice to the clergy.

“It’s a pathetic, ridiculous idea,” he charges. “My belief is that you should encourage people to believe that they are represented in the same way everybody else is represented, by their MP, by their local councilor and so on. An Irish immigrant friend of mine put it to me rather beautifully when he said that the moment when you become most integrated into a society is not when you get special bribes, special rights, special laws etc., but when you have to put up with the same sh*t as the rest of us.”

Murray gives what he calls the tragic example of a “very unpleasant sinister figure” from the Muslim Council of Britain, Inayat Bunglawala.

Bunglawala is quoted in Kenan Malik’s book From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy as saying that Rushdie affair is what radicalized him, what got him politicized. He says he didn’t really go to the mosque that much, hadn’t really read the Koran, but that he heard about the novel and he thought, “Why are we being singled out? Why are they only attacking us.”

“This is a tragedy,” says Murray, “because this was the moment when somebody in a position of power could have said: ‘You know what? You’re not being singled out; you are being subjected to exactly the same treatment that free societies exact on everyone.’ Nobody said that. It was repeatedly given out that there was a justifiable grievance and that’s what’s still understood today. We should have at that point said at that point in 1989 said that a society where even your deepest feelings can be trodden on is the only society worth living in. We should have said a long time ago and it’s still not too late to say it now.”

Murray calls Britain a “soft touch” on immigration and welfare, citing the case of Anjem Choudary, a co-founder of the now proscribed Al- Muhajiroun movement, whom he describes as “one of the most notorious loud-mouthed idiots in Britain.”

“Choudary has a few children and a wife – he’s a qualified solicitor but as far as we know has never sought employment. He receives £25,000 a year in benefits, untaxed, and among other things he and his welfare jihadi friends go and abuse British soldiers coming home from Afghanistan when there are homecoming parades."

“Now this has caused a lot of bitter and understandable resentment in Britain. The thing that people haven’t quite realized is the most perverse about this is that a soldier in Afghanistan, starting out, fighting for Britain, receives something like £15,000 a year on which he is taxed to fight the Taliban, whom Choudary and his supporters support. So the British state will currently give you £15,000 if you’re willing to fight her majesty’s enemies and £10,000 more if you are willing to support her majesty’s enemies.

It’s probably not the first time in history where one side has paid its enemies and its own men, but its probably the first war in history where somebody has paid its enemies better than its own men.”

MURRAY SAYS that the Mike’s Place bombing in April 2003, when two British Muslim suicide bombers attacked a bar in Tel Aviv, killing three people, was a transformative moment for him.

“If you have a problem you export, it does come home,” he says. “When those two young men, one of them from Kings College in London, came out to Tel Aviv, that should have been a moment when not just the British police and the British security services, but the British government and the British people woke up, to what they have made.”

Asked why is it that many of those Muslims who have committed terrorist attacks in the West have been very much a product of the West, affluent and privileged rather than poor, marginalized and alienated, Murray points to Britain’s universities as hotbeds of radicalism.

“The Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a rich Nigerian boy, lived in his father’s flat in the most expensive part of London and got radicalized while at University College London,” says Murray as an example. “I've said a lot in recent years on the university issue; I’ve kept on trying to get the universities to wake up to this. My center published a report called ‘Islam on Campus’ in 2008 which got huge attention because of very worrying findings, like a third of Muslim students saying that killing in the name of their religion could be justified, things like that.

“I have kept trying, the center has kept on trying to explain to the universities that this is their problem. Omar Sheik [a former student at the London School of Economics best known for his role in the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl], Assaf Hani [one of the Mike’s Place bombers] and another LSE graduate, Abdulmutallab. The list is now pretty long."

“The only explanation I have for why it hasn’t been dealt with is that it goes so much against the narrative that privileged white Western liberals have got, that they can’t think their way out of it even when the evidence is to the contrary. If you believe Islamist terrorism is caused by poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of education, Israel, then you need things to fit that. Now you can put up with one thing bucking that trend, but when it happens repeatedly some people just dig themselves in and ignore it even more. In Britain, at any rate, you are more likely to become a terrorist if you go to university.”

Again Murray blames a failure to stand up for liberal values. “You are more likely to become a major terrorist if you’ve gone to university because, among other things, these places have two factors: one you come across the very softest, most apologist form of education you could find; you come across soft liberal Western opinion that cannot decide where to draw lines, cannot decide how to defend itself, cannot explain the superiority of some liberal values and won’t argue its case. Then you come across the thing that has taken advantage of this – Muslim groups who week in, week out bring in radical speakers from the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hizbullah.

“Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, is sitting in his penthouse in a country that he doesn’t know very much and he will probably notice the following. He would notice that you aren’t allowed to recruit for the British army at University College London, but he would also notice that pretty well known jihadis can speak on campus. In other words this young man can get in touch with the top jihadis via his Islamic studies society.”

Referring to an earlier he comment on how when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will always back the strong horse, and how if people see that the state is weak, unbothered even by its assassins, then they will not back the state, they will not back the country they are in and they will not integrate further, Murray says: “You would get a very warped idea about which was strong horse and which was the weak horse if you were Abdulmutallab. After Christmas Day I assumed it would stop, I have to say I’m still waiting for it to happen. I don’t know what it takes, in other words. I thought after Mike’s place they’ll wake up, they must wake up now. I thought that after 9/11, I thought that after 7/7.

After every incident you say, surely they are gong to wake up now. The only good thing is that some people do and everyone that breaks the silence encourages other people to do the same.”

MURRAY DOES feel, though, that with the recent election of a new Conservative-led government the situation has improved somewhat, but on the other hand he says he is “very concerned about the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the coalition, because of their tendency to harbor rabid anti-Semites, people like Jenny Tonge.”

“I’m not a supporter of any of the parties,” says Murray, “but the Conservatives do have some people who do get this. [Secretary of State for Work and Pensions] Ian Duncan Smith has stated his desire to stop the welfare culture. He hasn't said this, but it is the welfare culture which has fueled a lot of this in Britain – the situation where you do jihad on the dole.

“Others have signaled they know the right way to go. The new home secretary [Theresa May] banning [radical Muslim preacher] Zaki Naik was a good example. She said entry to Britain is not a right, it’s a privilege, so he’s not coming in. There are some signs, but to my mind to sort this out now requires a huge degree of political leadership and I don’t think there is any of that or much of that around. You have to break through a set of barriers in order to deal with this.”

While Murray feels the clock is now showing “five minutes to midnight” and the danger exists of a European city falling to Islam – and in Britain the possibility of “no go areas” in Birmingham, the country’s first Muslim majority city – it is not yet too late to turn the situation around, he says.

One of the things Murray calls for is a clampdown on immigration.

“There has to be a clampdown,” he says, “There has to be severe restriction on it. It seems very obvious to me that a society that does not believe it has anything it needs to protect, that it has no identity to keep, will melt down and end. There is a level of immigration above which you cannot integrate people, and I believe that is what we’ve seen in Britain.”

There is, he adds, also a level at which people can be integrated. “It is generally accepted now that the grandparents of young Muslims today are better integrated then their grandchildren are,” he says. “There is something seriously wrong when you are practicing reverse integration like that.”

Dealing with immigration is just the start for Murray. He also calls on the government to take strong line on hate speech and incitement, to expel foreign clerics if necessary and not to allow Britain “to remain a retirement for would-be jihadis who then claim European Convention of Human Rights grounds for not going to other countries.”

He says that Britain must step out of the CHR. “You have to have a British bill of rights,” he says, “which means some of the insanities that now hinder some of Britain’s own fight are not allowed to persist. You have to end the era of funding Muslim groups, you take away the idea that you can get special access to Downing Street or the UK government just for being a so-called, self-appointed Muslim leader.

You say no, like the prime minister of Denmark did during the cartoon crisis when the delegates of Muslims came to him to complain. He said, ‘No, they will have to learn. I am not seeing them; they will have to learn.

We have a free press and the government does not control that; the sooner they learn that, the better.’” Turning the situation around will be the work of at least a generation, probably more, says Murray. But at the end of the day, he adds, what Britain has to do is to return to a period in which it says: “This is what we stand for, this is what we permit and this is what we do not permit. We are not an entirely relative society. We believe some aspects of our society are better than aspects of other societies. We have allies, and we have friends that we stick beside, and that’s nonnegotiable. We don’t put up with blackmail.”

He also believes that one of the things that needs to be tackled to turn the clock back is the UK’s attitude to Israel, which he likens to appeasement. “If it [the British government] continues to feed the lies that have been told, Britain will suffer angst. It is astonishing that the no major politician since [Tony] Blair has understood Israel’s right to defend herself.

“They consistently speak about such a right in theory, but whenever in practice, whether its Gaza or the flotilla, they don’t, and they condemn Israel on it. I hate reverting to 1930s quotes, because I don’t think history is an endless lesson of repeating the 1930s, but you know [Winston] Churchill’s famous description of an appeaser as someone who feeds the crocodile and hope it will eat him last. Some major leader has to explain in relation to Israel and Britain that this crocodile would eat us next, not last. Therefore it would be a very very stupid thing, for your own security, as well as your own sense of what’s morally right, to keep sacrificing Israel in this way.”

ARE YOU optimistic that the battle will be won? I ask Murray in conclusion.His answer is not entirely reassuring; the clock, he says, will continue to tick down. “The problem is that it’s five to midnight. The reason it’s so close is that this is seen currently as being unturnaroundable, and I think it can be turned around because I have faith in the fact that things will happen that will mean that the politicians, eventually, at one minute to midnight, will realize how badly they screwed up and this will have to be rectified.

“I’ll tell you why I’m optimistic, which is this. I honestly believe that our values are better; the values of democratic pluralistic societies are better. I honestly think that in a debate between a rigid totalitarian interpretation of my ideology and liberal democracy, liberal democracy has everything going for it and Islamism has nothing going for it. And if we explain ourselves better, we win. If we explain ourselves as badly as we are at the moment, then we lose.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Europe could be next on al-Shabaab's hit list

THE INDEPENDENT, UK

Some of the chaos and bloodshed of everyday life on the streets of Mogadishu was visited on the Ugandan capital on Sunday night. As the bodies of innocents ripped apart while they watched the World Cup final are buried and the burnt remains are sifted there is a keener sense of the cost of ignoring the world's most failed state.

That Kampala should be forced to pay the first instalment of that cost is bitterly unfair. The real responsibility for the emergence of al-Shabaab and the seemingly endless war in Somalia is more widely held and more complex. Should the twin bombings in the Ugandan capital be confirmed as the work of Somalia's largest Islamic militant group, then the logic and timing behind the attack is clear.

The World Cup offered a point of maximum publicity and poignancy for al-Shabaab to hit out at the country that is doing more than any other to maintain Somalia's weak transitional government. Uganda provides the bulk of a small African Union force – augmented by troops from Burundi – that is the last line of defence against al-Shabaab's stated aim of taking over the capital, Mogadishu.

The atrocity would also open a new phase in which al-Shabaab, which claims allegiance to al-Qa'ida, begins operations in foreign countries. This would have profound implications for cities from Cape Town and Nairobi to London and Minnesota where a large Somali diaspora would find itself viewed as a potential source of terrorism. The timing of Sunday's attack would also seem designed to intimidate would-be contributors to the AU force that was set to grow from 2,000 to 5,000 soldiers. The leadership of al-Shabaab has repeatedly threatened to strike Uganda and Burundi at home, and threatened other neighbours such as Kenya with retribution on its own soil.

Another aspect of the militants' anger at Uganda is the country's hosting of a European Union-supported military base at Bihanga in the west of the country where 400 Somali government soldiers are being trained by a mix of Finnish, Irish, Portuguese and French army instructors. This is the first phase of a long-delayed programme to build-up the forces of the government of Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed in Somalia.

The most ominous aspect of the huge loss of life in Kampala is the possibility of a shifting balance within an Islamic movement which has until now been parochial in its aims.

The group was originally the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union, a bold local experiment in unseating rival warlords and a corrupt transitional government in 2006 that was ended by a US-backed Ethiopian invasion. That foreign intervention helped to turn the movement into a radical Islamic army, swollen by the tens of thousands of young and disaffected Somalis with few other options in the shattered state.

Al-Shabaab was fighting a holy war against a government which it viewed as insufficiently Islamic and a proxy for outsiders. Until now, its operations had largely been confined to central and southern Somalia where it has succeeded in asserting dominance and imposing its own extremist form of Islamic law.

However, there have long been tensions between the nationalist elements of al-Shabaab and the internationalists who have joined their ranks – many of them foreign fighters. The al-Qa'ida wing of the movement has placed its struggle in the context of a global Jihad and made repeated threats to foreign targets.

"A conference of those two strands within Shabaab happens when you attack Kampala," said Roger Middleton, a Somalia analyst with think-tank Chatham House. "It's really worrying because the thing about this for a long time is that people have been saying Shabaab is primarily concerned with what is going on inside Somalia and they're fighting inside Somalia."

For the last 18 months Western intelligence agencies have been warning of a mounting threat from al-Shabaab which can take cover among the hundreds of thousands of Somalis who make up the global disapora.

The reverberations of the war in the Horn of Africa reached Melbourne in Australia this time last year after a huge security operation led to the arrest of four Somali men allegedly linked to an al-Shabaab plot.

As investigators sift the wreckage of the two bomb sites in Kampala, governments around the world will be scrambling to prevent the potential threat of similar scenes in their own cities. They will also be confronted with the dilemma of disengaging further from the anarchy many of them are complicit in creating in Somalia or charting a fresh and more constructive engagement with a country some had decided they could afford to ignore.

al-Shabab: Playing football is a satanic act

"If we keep the young generation for football, al-Shabab can't recruit them to fight"


WASHINGTON POST


On a police base in this war-scarred capital, the players in the Somalian under-17 national football team practise in mismatched attire for a match against Egypt.

Their field is a forlorn, uneven patch of earth covered with mud, rocks and rusty cans. There are no goal posts. ''The fighting is crippling our ability to train,'' said Yusuf Ali, the coach, as his players manoeuvred the ball around puddles.

If you thought the biggest woes a national football team could face were injured players, bad calls by referees or boisterous fans blowing vuvuzelas, think again.

In Somalia, playing football is an exercise in evading death. For football-crazed Somalis, merely watching this year's World Cup, the first in Africa, has required bottomless reserves of courage.

Al-Shabab, a hard-line Islamic militia waging a campaign of terrorism across Somalia, has banned playing football in many areas it controls. The militia - linked to al-Qaeda - and Hezb-i-Islami, a rival extremist group, prohibited World Cup broadcasts, describing the sport as ''a satanic act'' that corrupts Muslims.

The militants have brutally targeted politicians, clerics and peacekeepers - anyone who has challenged their extreme views.

In the past month, they have killed at least five people and arrested scores more for watching the Cup.

They have detained and tortured local football club owners on charges of misguiding youth. Yet the players on the national team have pressed forward, doing their best to train and play matches.

Thousands of Somalis living in areas controlled by al-Shabab have slipped into the sliver of territory ruled by the US-backed transitional government to watch the televised matches.

Somali football federation officials declare their defiance of al-Shabab's dictates is nothing less than a struggle for the nation's youth. ''If we keep the young generation for football, al-Shabab can't recruit them to fight,'' said the head of the football federation, Abdulghani Sayeed, who stays at a heavily guarded hotel in Mogadishu. ''This is really why al-Shabab fights with us.''

Ali's team has no choice but to play on the police base. Al-Shabab has taken over both of Mogadishu's stadiums to train recruits, most of whom are younger than 17. Since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, a civil war has suffocated the development of Somalia's football players. The national team has never qualified for the World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations.

With the rise of al-Shabab, their world has, more than ever, closed in - geographically and psychologically.

Militants have plucked children from football fields and forced them to join their militia. Many players and their families have fled areas controlled by al-Shabab. They have carried along their fear and a lack of confidence in the weak government's ability to protect them.

''I don't go any place. I just stay in my apartment,'' said Mahad Mohammed, 16, a team member who lives with his parents. ''It's possible al-Shabab will arrest me or make me join them.''

Most players keep a low profile, careful even about their choice of words.

''No one talks about al-Shabab,'' Ali said. ''If we criticise them, we will be attacked.''

Islamic radicalization on British campuses

ALMASRYALYOUM, Egypt

Last November, two Asian Muslim university students were stabbed in central London on a Thursday evening after they were surrounded by more than 30 white and black youths. A passerby who tried to defend the students was knifed as well.

The incident is the worst, following a series of verbal abuse directed at male and female Muslim students (especially those covered in concealing garments known as niqabs), and the latest of a string of physical attacks that in one incident left one student with a fractured skull, according to reports by the Guardian at the time. The incident happened near City University, and the victims were undergraduate students, all younger than 20 years of age. Some arrests followed the stabbings.

At the time, criticism of the university's Muslim students was rising, especially on right-wing blogs. And the university's Islamic Society (ISOC) known as City ISOC, which is the equivalent of an Islamic campus club or Usra as these organizations are known in Egypt, was accused of harboring radical students and hosting events featuring extremist Muslim clerics.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies told the Guardian after the attack that there had always been sporadic attacks directed at Muslim university students.

Weeks after the incident, the alarm remained, both with Muslim students who feared for their lives and with others in the non-Muslim British community. Not a few number of young people, experts, journalists and citizens have remained highly suspicious of young Muslims--if protests, letters to local and national newspapers, local news reports and opinion columns are anything to go by.

The events that followed didn't help alleviate any of the fear or the suspicion on both sides.

Emails from the Islamic Society of the City University, where I acquired a masters degree in investigative journalism, flooded my inbox since I'm signed up to their mailing list.

The young heads of the City ISOC, which besides being centered on religion also does charity work, were extremely worried. The acting vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Julius Weinberg, had given Muslim students the freedom at the time to skip late afternoon and evening classes and go home early for their safety.

Some of the emails sent around advised Muslim students to "always travel in groups, do not go home alone. Leave university by 4 PM. Be vigilant, careful and stick together ... Make constant duaa [supplication] to Allah ... do not despair for the victory of Allah is indeed near. Listen and obey the order of the Ameer [headbrother] and let's be patient and supportive to the brothers."

The excerpt was from an email from the "sisters," female members of the City University ISOC. As the case with many Egyptian Muslim student groups, boys and girls are segregated during prayers, activities and even on electronic mailing lists.
 
Clearly, the students were shaken. More follow-up emails were sent.

But all efforts from the university to make the students feel safe and integrated went downhill when, months later, specifically in March 2010, the Muslim prayer rooms at the university were closed down. At the time, John Tibble, director of services for students, had told the student paper City Offline that this action was taken following the knife attacks for the protection of the students themselves, denying it was a discriminatory action, as Muslim students had claimed.

"The university has to think about the security and safety of their students first and foremost. We don't think the risk to our students is any less now than it was in November. When students finish in the evening they come out and disperse in a way that all university students would disperse," he was quoted as saying.

Muslim students, however, were not convinced, and protests took place on campus in addition to congregational mass prayers on Fridays in the university's square as a form of protest. When the university offered a new prayer space that is not exclusive for Muslims, the ISOC placed a sign on it reading, "It is Haram (forbidden) for Muslims to pray here," accompanying it with the Quranic verse "And the places of worship are only for Allah, so pray not unto anyone along with Allah," suggesting that this verse forbids Muslims to pray where non-Muslims do.
 
They were angry and vocal, and for some understandably so, and the incidents spurred a series of questions and discussions on-campus and off, on faith, safety and what exactly Muslim students say or do in their meetings and their closed-off prayer rooms. And for many, those questions were legitimate.

However, in lieu of further wide discussions, or perhaps more deliberations, between university management and members of the Islamic society, the university ruled last month that "it is no longer associated by the Islamic Society after a report found that the society's actions and views reflected those of a small minority of radical Muslim students," according to editor of student newspaper City Offline Jonross Swaby.

"It was found that the majority of Muslim students did not agree with the society, in which Shiite Muslims in particular were reportedly treated as outcasts--leading a separate society to be formed for Shias," said Swaby. "In the coming months, a new, more inclusive Islamic society will be set up, which should be approved by the university."

Since this decision is fairly recent, it's yet to be seen how provocative it will be for the students now termed "radical" by the university's administration. Or not.

By the time the stabbings happened, I'd just finished an investigation into some of the claims against Muslim students, and City's in particular, charging at precisely some of these questions and worries.

Extremist ideologies did seem to be burgeoning among British Muslim students, upon initial inspection. And the popularity of Imams, literature, and events that channel Islamist and separatist ideas to vulnerable young Muslims through university-based Islamic societies seemed to be a problem that both universities and government, it seems, did not know how to deal with, without appearing "Islamophobic," politically incorrect and without tramping on essential human rights, like the freedom to believe and practice faith freely.

Reactions seemed to waver between being over-sympathetic with students or too harsh or dismissive. There didn't seem to be a middle ground in which fruitful discussion and introspection within the Muslim community could take place.

Investigating issues of terrorism and the allure of extremist ideology and Islamic militancy among university students is a very complicated issue. Like a cobweb, each thread intersects with another and in the end everything is connected: anti-terrorism policy, human rights, arbitrary arrests among Muslims and visitation to their houses by the British security service, known as MI5, or police, allegations of complicity in torture, media biases, the influence of oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, who not only advocate an extremist and uncompromising form of Islam but also export it to Europe, Islamophobia, the popularity of certain outspoken Arab and Pakistani sheikhs and Imams, and identity problems among students.
 
In short, it’s a monstrous and murky issue, but it is a timely one. At the rate at which some Muslim students become alienated from their Western community and feel victimized and angry, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it’s a ticking bomb. Some of the clerics, which I have seen praised by some students, like Anwar al-Awlaki are turning out to be not as "harmless" as they had been thought to be years earlier. Al-Awlaki, who has become central to my research because of the status he holds among many students, has just been warned against as a rising threat during a talk in June 2010, held by the Carnegie endowment for International Peace, because of his ties to Al-Qaeda and his "powerful appeal to violent extremists."

What does this mean? Does it follow then that acolytes of Al-Awlaki in British universities are "violent extremists" or "terrorists"? Do ISOCs indeed carry within their ranks hidden "terrorist" cells? Not all all. Or at least not necessarily.

It doesn't seem to be a white-and-black issue; there are no easy answers, as experts and observers I interviewed have testified. And in my investigation, which will be published starting next week in a series of four stories, I set out not only to examine evidence of extremism, radical Saudi-style ideologies in universities and the degree to which some politicized Imams are popular among students, but to also give an insight into the campus life of some conservative Muslim students and the activities they engage in through their respective Islamic societies, which serve as their number one source for same-faith friendships and peerage, literature, charity activities and Islamic education.

Readers who have attended university in Egypt should be able to draw parallels between the experiences of these Muslim British students and their ultra-conservative counterparts in Egyptian universities. The work should provide an insight into the lives of these students, why they choose certain ideologies, and what attracted them to certain speakers or to the ISOC itself.

It's not meant to be inclusive and it certainly doesn't set out to place a verdict on either Muslim students or those who misjudge them. It also doesn't clear the Muslim community of responsibility towards the "radicalism" that takes place inside the heads of some of these students, whether through university societies, mosques, powerful Islamic figures or the lack thereof. And it doesn't lift responsibility off the students' themselves.
 
The work, which will come out every Monday and Wednesday, takes the form of a narrative and aims to be literary and entertaining as well as informative.

In a separate column, to be published in the wake of this series, I will also shed light on the journalistic and individual challenges that I have encountered during research and reporting for this story, why I chose to write about the subject and some of the lessons that this journey might have taught me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Martin Luther on Islam

INTRODUCTION

As early as 1518, Dr. Martin Luther had identified the Islamic faith as the "scourge of God." For the rest of his life Luther believed that the Muslims were God's punishment upon a sinful Christendom who had, among other sins (ingratitude, toleration of wicked sects, worship of the god Mammon, drunkenness, greed, and the split of Christendom which had provoked His wrath), tolerated the papal abomination. They would function as Germany's schoolmaster who must correct and teach the German people to repent of their sins and to fear God.

By 1541, Luther's burning question for the German people is "how can God be patient any longer?" Just as God had punished the generation of Noah for its wickedness, God must now protect His honor and divinity by punishing the thankless and ungrateful German people.

The Origin and Nature of the Islamic Faith

Martin Luther, having spent the majority of his life lecturing on the Old Testament, derived his understanding of the origin and nature of Islam from Daniel 7 and Daniel's dream concerning the four beasts. In Daniel's vision, each beast represented a kingdom with the last beast signifying the Roman Empire.

In fulfillment of Daniel 7:20, Luther identified the origin of Islam with the small horn which had displaced the kingdoms of Egypt, Greece, and Asia and who makes war against God's people. The nature of the Islamic faith can be understood by the human eyes of the beast which represented Islam's sacred book, the Qur'an, containing only human wisdom. The mouth signified the many blasphemies that the prophet Muhammad uttered against the Christian faith.

In a letter to Nicholas Hausmann, Luther made the further identification of Gog with the Muslim and Magog with the pope, the former being the external or worldly enemy of God's people and the latter being the spiritual or ecclesiastical enemy of Christ and His Church. These two enemies of God, and of His people, possessed the same origin in time with the establishment of papal primacy to Boniface III in 606 A.D. by Phokes and with the appearance of the Muslims in 621-632 A.D.

Islamic Errors

Luther believed that the Islamic faith was a patchwork faith which had been "patched together out of the faith of the Jews, Christians, and the heathen" (PE 5:95). The chief theological errors of Islam manifested themselves in the following ways:

A FALSE SYSTEM OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

For Luther, it is foolish and unwise to place one's hope of salvation upon a religious system which had no calling or promise from God. Consequently, all of the Muslim's fasting, alms-giving, zeal, spirituality, and self-chosen worship count for nothing before God (LW 24:229).

The reason the Muslim engages in these labors, suggests Luther, is that his false understanding of God's nature and will leads him to view God as an angry God who must be won by humility, fasting, sacrifice and good works (LW 22:336). In doing so, he rejects the office of Christ (as Redeemer and Mediator) by his own labor to obtain a gracious God and constructs his own ladder to heaven (LW 22:334). As a result, the Muslim bears fruit that is natural and temporally good, but it is not Christian and everlasting since its source is not found in the true Vine who is Christ (LW 24:214).

In summary, the Islamic faith is simply that "if you are pious and just, and if you perform good works, you are saved" (LW 22:501). The prayer of the Muslim is "may God spare my life that I may atone for my sin" (LW 24:349). Thus, the Muslim possesses a false righteousness that strives to be holy, not through faith in the merits of Christ but through his own self-chosen works (LW 24:243) and to "do good according to the light and understanding of reason and to be saved in this way" (LW 24:372).

A FALSE SOURCE OF THEOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE

The second major error of the Islamic faith is its refusal to remain with the simple Gospel but instead to create a new bible, the Qur'an (LW 24:9). Due to this false source of theological knowledge, a system of salvation was constructed that could be comprehended by and which conforms to unregenerate human reason (LW 22:301-302; LW 23:79). Consequently, the tenets of the Islamic faith are in marked contrast to the fundamental articles of the Christian faith (Trinity, Incarnation) which are beyond human reason (LW 22:302) and revealed from heaven by the Holy Spirit (PE 5:178-179).

A CHRISTOLOGICAL HERESY

According to Martin Luther, the chief strategy of Satan, and of all heresies, is to deny Christ's incarnation, rob humankind of God and His Word, and to fabricate a new god. This is the way the devil goes to work: "He attacks Christ with three storm-columns. One will not suffer Him to be God; the other will not suffer Him to be man; the third denies that He has merited salvation for us. Each of the three endeavors to destroy Christ...Surely all three parts must be believed, namely, that He is God, also, that He is man, and that He became such a man for us...If one small part is lacking, then all parts are lacking" (Bente 1965:14).

The Muslims believe, like their ancestor Nestorius, that Jesus was only Mary's son and not the Son of God (LW 22:351). They hold Christ to be an excellent prophet and a great man who preached to His own time and who completed His work before His death just like any other prophet. Christ, however, is not as great as Muhammad (LW 22:18; LW 23:82), who is to be worshipped and adored in Christ's stead (LW 22:137). Thus, the Muslims storm against the teaching of Christ as true God (LW 22:395) and refuse to accept the testimony of Jesus Himself and of the Holy Spirit (LW 23:377) that He is the true God and true man (LW 22:468; PE 5:94).

The real stumbling block for the Muslim is "acknowledging that Christ is the Son of God and His message is the Word of God" (LW 22:476) since it is the nature of all schismatic spirits to assert that Jesus' Word must be ignored and discarded (LW 23:357) and to sever and separate God, Christ and His Word from one another and debate about God (LW 24:67). As a result, the Muslim is not able to know God because he seeks to know Him without Christ (LW 24:23), the true path and ladder (LW 23:56). The Muslim, instead of finding God here on earth in the flesh of Christ (LW 23:117), searches in vain for God in heaven (LW 23:123; LW 23:170).

THE ISLAMIC FAITH DESTROYS TEMPORAL AUTHORITY

A final tenet of Islam which Luther condemns is its teaching about the proper role of government. The Muslim is not concerned, like other rulers, with the maintenance of peace, the protection of the good, and the punishment of the wicked but uses government, after he has murdered men's souls with his Qur'an, to murder their bodies (PE 5:96). By his lies, the Muslim seeks to "destroy the spiritual estate, murder the temporal, disregard for marriage the estate of matrimony" (PE 5:100).

Luther's Advice in Dealing with Islam

SIR CHRISTIAN -- THE FIRST MAN


The advice of Luther concerning the Islamic threat in Europe during the Sixteenth Century was not the crusades, for to advocate a Christian crusade against the Muslims was to mix spiritual authority with temporal authority. The consequences of such a mixture and a confusion of the two authorities would be to draw God's wrath and insure the success of Islam. Instead, the Muslims were to be fought spiritually by Christians with repentance, the amendment of one's life and with prayer.

In order to achieve this spiritual posture before God, Germany's pastors were to admonish the papists to stop blaspheming God and to admonish the ungrateful, wanton German people to improve their behavior, to honor God's Word and to call on God in prayer. Germany's pastors were to be God's prophetic voices, calling God's people back to Himself through genuine repentance, faith and prayer.

THE EMPEROR -- THE SECOND MAN

The second man whose place it was to fight against the Muslim was Emperor Charles. It was his office to war agains the Muslim because of their threats toward the Empire's subjects and the Empire itself. It was his duty, as a ruler appointed by God, to defend his own people and land (PE 5:102). If there was to be war against the Muslim, "it should be fought at the Emperor's command and under his banner, and in his name...[why?]...Because then everyone can assure his own conscience that he is obeying the ordinance of God, since we know that the emperor is our true overlord and head, and he who obeys him...obeys God also, while he who disobeys him disobeys God also" (PE 5:102-103).

Therefore, advises Luther, the emperor and the princes should be exhorted concerning their office and duty to God not to let their subjects be ruined, but rather to be reminded that Germany and its people are "given you and committed to you by God, that you may protect, rule, counsel, and help it, and you not only should, but must do this on pain of losing your soul's salvation and God's favor and grace" (PE 5:106).

Concluding Remarks


Just as in the days of Noah, so also in Luther's life, people lived as Epicureans and skeptics. As a consequence of their thankless hearts, God was just in punishing Europe. The Muslims were simply God's scourge and schoolmaster, permitted by God to be the servant of the devil, who not only ruins land and people with the sword but also lays waste the Christian faith and our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

The consistent resolve and advice of Luther was to appeal to the two governments instituted by God, namely, spiritual and temporal authority. Sir Christian, as the body of Christ, was to fight with the Word of God, prayer and a reformed life. Then the Emperor was to carry out his office and defend his people and land. For "if our kings and princes were to agree, and stand by one another and help one another, and the Christian man were to pray for them, I should be undismayed and of good hope; the Muslim would leave his raging and find in Emperor Charles a man who was his equal" (PE 5:122).