November 15, 2015


Islam's civil war between medievalists and modernisers : The Paris attacks are the culmination of a 200-year-long battle over whether Islam should accomodate or resist Western power (Husain Haqqani, 15 Nov 2015, The Telegraph)

The Muslim world, ascendant for several centuries, has found it difficult to deal with its decline as a global power during modern times. Inspired by the notion that Muslims were chosen by God to lead the world, medieval Muslim law made freedom of religion conditional to Muslim rule. Religious coexistence in Muslim Spain, for example, reflected the tolerance of a dominant Islam, allowing non-Muslim subjects to survive and practice their faiths conditionally. Still, that medieval standard of tolerance falls far short of modern concepts of religious coexistence under secular states.

The anti-Western ideology known today as "political Islam" is largely a response or reaction to the breakdown of the traditional Islamic order under the pressures of modernity. Unlike Europe and North America, Muslim territories did not get the opportunity to evolve into modern states over time. The British and the French in the Arabic-speaking lands, the Russians in Central Asia, the Dutch in Indonesia and the British in India and Malaya brought new ideas and technology to Muslim lands.

The Muslim elite responded to this change of fortunes in one of two ways. The first response, adopted by some Muslim elites especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was to learn from and imitate the west. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, told a peasant who asked him what westernisation meant: "It means being a better human being." Others, however, recommended "revivalism" or a search for glory through rejection of new ways and ideas.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, there was considerable emphasis among Muslim scholars and leaders on modernising the Muslim world. By the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, however, those seeking the reverse - to Islamise the modern world - appeared to have gained greater momentum.

Contemporary jihadists have chosen to use modern means, including the internet and state-of-the-art weapons, to impose their medieval beliefs. But their ideology cannot be defeated by a purely military strategy. Islamist movements see the humiliation of fellow believers as an opportunity for the mobilisation and recruitment of dedicated followers.

The resort to asymmetric warfare - the idea that a suicide bomber is a poor man's F-16 - has often followed each significant Muslim military defeat. Yasser Arafat and his Al-Fatah captured the imagination of young Palestinians only after the Arab defeat and loss of the West Bank in 1967. Islamic militancy in Kashmir can be traced to India's military victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh war.

 The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris. (AP, 11/15/15)

Jordan's King Abdullah II says terrorism is the "greatest threat to our region" and that Muslims must lead the fight against it.

In a speech Sunday he says confronting extremism is "both a regional and international responsibility, but it is mainly our battle, us Muslims, against those who seek to hijack our societies and generations with intolerance takfiri ideology."

"Takfiri" refers to the radical Islamic practice of declaring one's enemies to be infidels worthy of death.

The speech did not specifically refer to the attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, but Abdullah has previously condemned them as a "cowardly terrorist act."

Jordan is taking part in the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

The point is humiliating them, not their fellow believers.  By playing up attacks like Paris instead of like the one on Jihadi John we inflate their importance and threat.  [consider, for instance, how mopey these "cartoons" generallty are.]
The political message needs to be one of relentless global strength on our part and localized humiliation on theirs, because that is what counters their ideology.

Posted by at November 15, 2015 9:43 AM