This is an awesome article I read a couple of weeks ago on a German website. It's long, but well worth the read. I waited for a while in the hope that I would come across and english version of it, but to no avail. I finally decided to spend the time translating the thing since I thought it was so well written. The original, from the German magazine "Der Spiegel" (a fairly left-wing publication no less) is no longer available for free, but I found a copy at http://www.pim-fortuyn.nl/pfforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=38881
Leon de Winter is a dutch journalist and writer, and this was published in the aftermath of the first London bombing.
I hope the translation is OK - I spent quite a bit of time on it.
Leon de winter, Spiegel Online, 18 July 2005
To some of the journalists and commentators, the motives behind the bombings of London were immediately clear: fury over the liberation of Iraq through American and British troops and over the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel. In my homeland Holland the political commentator and cultural historian Thomas von der Dunk, an admitted homosexual, implored us to meet al-Qaidas transgressions with understanding. In the British "Guardian", the columnist Gary Younge expressed himself: "if Blair did not know, that the invasion made us more vulnerable, then is he careless; if he knew, then he should take the responsibility for his share in this deed." Also "Trouw", a Dutch newspaper, printed a letter, in which the abolition of the traditional Dutch tolerance and modernity was demanded, because it would radicalize Moslems.
The critics of Prime Minister Blair Iraq policy are not incorrect in what motivates the terrorists. It is true that the terrorists cultivate the hope they could blackmail the British people with force to the renunciation of the British military presence in the south of Iraq. The question is: should the British people bow to that demand?
George Galloway, a British parliamentarian of the Respect-party, answered with an unambiguous “yes”. And he is supported by a majority of the Europeans. For them, the thought that Iraq would fall victim again to the tyranny of the Baath-party or to radical islam, is a distant, vague and abstract problem. They imagine that the world will calm itself again if the west would only withdraw its troops out of Iraq and out of Afghanistan. That the religious despotism would be restored, in which there would be no place for persons like themselves, for movie theaters which show artistic films out of south Korea and Finland, for critical journals or naked belly-buttons or homosexual men such as Mr. von der Dunk, doesn’t seem to disturb Mr. Galloway and his peers. It smells like blind arrogance to not to wish for others the freedoms that one regards as obvious.
Radical Islamic resistance against the presence of the Americans and British in Iraq and in Afghanistan feeds itself basically out of the - for radical Muslims unacceptable - idea, that the dominant military power in the “House of Peace” (called that due to the traditional understanding the territory, in that the population since the seventh century is subordinate to Islamic law) consists of unbelievers and Christians out of the “House of War” (the regions, in which the Islamic law is not valid).
In spite of the personal tragedies that are connected with these travesties, an important fact remains: the fundamentalist revolt against the status quo in the Arabic-islamic world has utterly failed. All regimes, from the so-called enlightened dictatorships in Morocco to the severe tyranny in Saudi Arabia, have not embraced Islamic fundamentalism.
Militarily, the terrorists have no chance against the superior armies of the west. In the hope to influence public opinion and the political elite, they try therefore to terrorize the population of both the Arabic and the western countries. They believe that the inhabitants of the West are persons who are morally weak, because the belief in the ultimate book is missing, and they are consumed by perverse desire, not strong enough in order to defend themselves and to sacrifice its sons in battle.
Even if critics of the Iraq-war like Michael Moore argue perhaps differently: the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq are not led in order to acquire colonies or provinces. The debate is whether it is possible under western supervision to spawn a stable bureaucracy and a peaceable middle class in these failed Arabic-islamic national countries, in which the social order is based extensively on tribal loyalty, corruption and the suppression of the women.
The Islamic resistance is based on the deep belief that modern western institutions and concepts of the shariah, the Islamic legal body, are diametrically opposed. In this the Islamists are absolutely correct. These western concepts offer autonomy and freedom to the individual citizen and make the wishes of the free citizens the focal point of the power in the population - the alleged antithesis to the shariah.
Traditionally the Umma, the worldwide partnership of the Muslims, is quiet about corruptions within its own ranks. There is practically no protest of Western and Arabic Muslims about criminal offenses in the Arabic-Islamic world. Saddam Hussein was able to bleed Iraq to death as if it had been his own personal province, without any demonstrations of Arabs or Muslims in Europe or North America. In the failed nation Afghanistan, the Koran-educated were able to create a cultural and humanitarian barren waste land, without Muslims pouring into the streets in order to demand the end of this inhuman ideology.
Rarely have Muslim leaders objected to the shameful conditions in Iraq, in Algeria, in the Sudan or in Afghanistan. The only ones who did were fugitives and dissidents, voices at the edge of a religious community that counts over a billion members.
This silence ended when western powers took for themselves the right to destroy the tyranny that controlled Afghanistan and Iraq. A multitude of Muslims suddenly recovered a voice; and very different sympathizers joined the choir of the opponents of the American intervention in Islamic countries: both radical and moderate Muslims have condemned the deeds of the American and the British government much more strongly and harsher, than they ever did the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein, while secular and left-wing western intellectuals provided heavy resistance against the American-British attempts to end the barbarous, woman-hostile and in fact absurd religious despotism of the Taliban.
In the last decades, millions of Muslims were killed by other Muslims, and yet this fact is extensively is ignored in the Islamic world community. Only a few Muslims ever publicly demanded that the Umma receive part of the moral and religious responsibility for these shocking massacres. The Arab League ignored the massacres of Muslims though other Muslims skillfully, but protests loudly if incidents between Israelis and Palestinians happen. This wrath, especially with regard to the treatment of the Palestinian Mulims and Christians through the Israelis (its harshness has no comparison to the desolate destruction, that, for example Saddam Hussein’s Clan has caused under the Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish population), stands in the strong contrast to the deafening quiet as a reaction to the millions of Muslim victims destroyed in these conflicts.
One of the main reasons for the lacking internal criticism is obviously the non-existence of a free press in the Arabic-Islamic world. But the silence of the Muslims to the hate, the abasement, corruption, folly, and submission of the women in its own world also reflects the fact that the Arabic-Islamic world is often based on tribal cultures that are based on ideas of honor and shame and in which self-criticism; even analysis and accordingly personal responsibility have hardly any place. In tribal cultures marked by shame, the cause lies always outside of the group. And for each evil, it is also the Jew to whom the guilt is given.
One hears indeed again hears voices that the Jews are responsible for the bomb attacks on London. The Iranian spiritual Ayatollah Mohammed Emami Kaschani gave the USA and Israel the guilt for the London attacks. The national Iranian radio explained: it was the Mossad.
A further main hindrance exists when trying to criticize radicals without actually criticizing Islam itself. Islamic terrorists call upon verses in the Koran and on the Hadith-collections (sayings and actions of the prophet) in order to justify their actions, and thereby prove they follow the true path of Islam. How can one criticize a believer that does nothing less than what the Koran prescribes: kill the unbeliever?
In many countries, in which Islam is the religion of the majority, unambiguously serious inequalities exist. In the west, the religious, political and intellectual elite repeat continuously that Islam is a religion of peace and the tolerance, while it is obvious that peace and tolerance in the Arabic-Islamic world is exactly that which is lacking. Galloway and his followers assign the crisis in the Arabic-Islamic world to another factor: it is the west itself to which one must prescribe the guilt.
The terminology employed by liberal western commentators and intellectuals is based mainly on concepts, with which the secular western intellectual have been familiar with for decades. The keywords in this ideological background are: suppression, disregard, imperialism, racism, Islamophobia, colonialism, oil, Zionism, born-again Christians, capitalism, unemployment, socioeconomic want and similar expressions – they originate from paradigms and dogmas that control the intellectual debate in the universities of Europe and America today.
Radical Muslims gratefully make use of this terminology in order to manipulate the western public opinion, but its chief complaint does not concern capitalistic exploitation, but rather the lack of belief in the Umma. For it, worldly domination results directly from genuine compliance with the shariah, for which the believer is rewarded by Allah with worldwide dominance. Presently the Arabic-Islamic world is poor and weak because it lacks piety. With sufficiently strong belief, each imperialist power would be easily overcome, and the result would not be the socialist utopia of the George Galloway, but rather the dark Middle Ages of the Taliban.
Radical Islamists have no interest in freeing Iraq of tyranny, they have no interest in the emancipation of women, at reform, upbringing, freedom of thought, innovation or independent research; they would like to establish a society in which variety, equality of the sexes, multiculturalism, religious freedom and self-determination of the individual have no place, for none of these conform to the wish of Allah as the Koran claims. What the radical Islamists want is a world without music.
Western intellectuals have not yet understood the metaphysics of terrorism in its search for the roots and causes of Islamic terrorism: the radical religious Muslim has no interest in Foucault or Derrida, the Gods of the postmodern and deconstruction, but rather in texts that were delivered to the believers by the one true God.
With the background of these texts, Mulims regards Jews and Christians as inferior because they believe in an incomplete or corrupt divine revelation. This conviction that is based on purely religious premises, leads to unite astonishing conclusions that give a quite bitter flavor to the presumed message of peace and tolerance. After the bombing attempts, the left-wing mayor of London, Ken Livingstone explained that the perpetrators were not motivated by a perverted belief, but by something else instead. He said following:
"This was no terrorist attack against the powerful and influential. It did not take aim on presidents or prime ministers. It was aimed at normal Londoners out of the working population, at black and white, at Muslims and Christians, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was the indiscriminate attempt to cause a bloodbath, without regard to any considerations of age, social strata, religion or anything else. It does not have anything to do with an ideology, it is not even a perverted belief.
It is only an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder, and we know what the goal is: they try to tear Londoners apart. They strive to agitate Londoners against each other. I told the International Olympic Committee yesterday that the city of London is the most magnificent city of the world, because all live together in harmony."
This statement reveals some of the perceptions of the left-wing intellectual in the west: the bombs were not aimed at the leaders of the society (would they have, if the terrorist had blown up the leaders?), but rather against hard working Londoners; the terrorists aim was to rile up Londoners against each other (in which manner?). But Livingstone’s most remarkable declaration is that ideology and religion played no part in this massacre.
Religion, and the ideology spawned by it, is the decisive factor behind Islamic terrorism: radical Islam is an ideology. The problem is caused by the fact that the radical verses with which terrorists justify their actions originate from the same Koran that moderate Muslims read.
The Koran contains numerous slandering commentaries about Jews, Christian, polytheists, the unbelieving and disloyal. God threatens them with punishment. For example in Sura 8, verse 12-13: "When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore give those who believe a firm bearing. I will cause those that don’t believe anxiety and fright. Therefore beat on their necks and chop off their fingertips because they have contradicted Allah and his messenger. Allah punishes severely." It is obvious, what the second part of this passage means: behead the unbelieving, and hack his fingertips off. The proclamation is followed often in Iraq and elsewhere - like Daniel Pearl and Theo van Gogh had to endure.
Many Muslims are raised in the certainty that its religion is superior to all other religions – not unlike obedient Christians or Jews. Some Muslims are raised in the certainty they possess the necessary authority to kill the disloyal if these refuse to accept Allah’s message.
Naturally only a minority of the Muslims of this world actually carry out this commandment, but as long as no conference of the leading Muslim theologians abolishes the death penalty as a part of a religious view, radical Muslims will quote the verses, which also justify the ignition of the bombs in the London Underground.
There will be always tension between the fundamentalist Islam and secular society until the Muslims accept that the shariah is a legal body that must be seen in a cultural and historic context. It is clearly evident why this is problematic: central aspects of the shariah spring out of the Koran, which obedient Muslims regard as a divine, timeless writing. If one transfers the shariah into a relative context, then radical Muslims believe that also applies to the Koran, and everyone who questions the divine creation of the Koran undermines the foundation of Islamic society.
In the letter, which the murderer of van Gogh secured with a knife to the corpse, he described apocalyptic pictures. It promised the unbelieving eternal punishments in hell. In the past week he declared before court that he had killed van Gogh, because he (van Gogh) had insulted the prophet.
A favorite website of Muslims across the world is www.Islam.tc. One of the subjects with which the websites is concerned about is the last day when Allah demands accounting of the human race, a central mythical presentation that is a feature of monotheism.
Islam.tc writes the following: "we have good fortune that so much knowledge was given to us about the coming events, as the last day (Kijama) nears. No other people were blessed with such details about future tribulations and events that will overpower humanity... we must admit furthermore based on the many small signs that have become true, that the Apocalypse is certainly very near. Only Allah knows the exact moment of the beginning of the events, but the signs with which He blessed us, confirm that we stand at the edge of a change. This matter must be taken seriously."
Muslims know the signs of the last day out of the Hadith. There the last day is described in the words of Mohammed: "1. my death, 2. The conquest of Jerusalem, 3. mass deaths under the population, such as when large amounts of sheep die during an epidemic, 4. An abundance of wealth to such an extent that a person to whom one gives one hundred Dinars would not be satisfied, 5. General anarchy and bloodshed so that no Arabic family remains spared, 6. Then a peaceful life as a result of Peace contract between you and the Bani al-Asfar (Jews and Christians), that they will break and attack you with an army which will consist of eighty flags, and under each flag an army of twelve thousand man."
The attacks of radical Islam, as spectacular and destructive they may be for the families of the victims, have not curbed the continued existence of a free western civilization. Fundamentalist Islam has not been able to conquer an Arabic country with force, let alone bring the west to its knees. To be sure, it seems that the imagination of the last day justifies the use of weapons of mass destruction. Behind the political and media fronts, a worldwide battle is fought by western and Arabic secret services in order to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of Muslim terrorists.
Fundamentalist extremists long for the opportunity, to kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Kafirs, and unbelievers (including moderate Muslims). That through it the wrath of the west with all its power would be unleashed and the presence of millions of peaceful Moslems in the west would be jeopardized would be a welcome side effect: the terrorists are convinced that the worldwide Islamic community will stand behind them in the decisive moment and supports the radical idea in the impending large fire. If millions die, this is a sign that the last day has come. The distinction between life and death is abolished forever.
The Twin towers, Madrid, the Londoners Underground – with these begin a long and bitter battle with the apocalyptic obsession of an extremist religious minority.
[Edited some grammatical and context errors.]