Projecting Christianity onto other religions

David Forsmark makes a point made by our own loyal reader, author, and Nordic expert Lars Walker, speaking of the Norse deities.  Forsmark writes:

Americans have a naïve view of religion. The religious freedom that is so ingrained in our tradition — and our Constitution — has morphed beyond tolerance to a sort of anthropomorphic acceptance of pretty much anything.

In other words, in order to prove how tolerant we are, we take our basically Judeo-Christian view of what religion and God should be, and assume all other religions share the same goals, have the same values, and are just differing manifestation of the same loving and just God.

Nothing could be further from the truth. [Read more...]

Al-Qaeda 2.0

Al-Qaeda is back.  And, according to David Ignatius, the new version is going to be even harder to battle, particularly since our former Arab allies in the war on terrorism have now been taken over by Islamists.  He uses the metaphor of a metastasizing cancer:

The Obama administration is working with its allies to frame a strategy to combat what might be called “al-Qaeda 2.0” — an evolving, morphing terrorist threat that lacks a coherent center but is causing growing trouble in chaotic, poorly governed areas such as Libya, Yemen, Syria and Mali.

[Read more...]

Al-Qaeda is back in vogue

Islamic terrorism and al-Qaeda in particular seemed to be in the doldrums, what with military defeats and drone attacks.  But now that an al-Qaeda franchise took over that natural gas installation in Algeria–at last count, 38 hostages killed, including 3 Americans–its stock is reportedly soaring in the radical Islamic world and more young people are getting excited about terrorism again.  So reports Joby Warrick in the Washington Post:

A week of violence in Algeria and Mali has transformed al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch into a cause celebre for militant Islamists around the globe, boosting recruitment and fundraising for the jihadists and spurring fears of further terrorist attacks in the region and beyond. [Read more...]

Hostage bloodbath

Information and details about the hostage situation in Mali are uncertain and contradictory.   But it seems that Algerian forces have stormed the natural gas facility.  Reuters reports that 30 hostages were killed (more than we were told there were), though some escaped.  The fate of the Americans was not known.  From Reuters:

Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant in a bid to free many dozens of Western and local captives, an Algerian security source said. [Read more...]

Another hostage crisis

The French intervention into Mali spilled over to other countries, as Islamic radicals in Algeria attacked a natural gas facility and seized at least 20 hostages, including  7 Americans, as well as French, British, and Japanese nationals.  From Reuters:

Islamist fighters seized dozens of Western and Algerian hostages in a dawn raid on a natural gas facility deep in the Sahara on Wednesday and demanded France halt a new offensive against rebels in neighboring Mali.

Three people, among them one British and one French, were reported killed, but details were sketchy and numbers of those held at Tigantourine ranged from 41 foreigners – including perhaps seven Americans as well as Japanese and Europeans – to over 100 local staff, held separately and less closely watched. [Read more...]

France starts its own Iraq

Back when the U.S.A. invaded Iraq, the French refused to join the “coalition of the willing” and opposed our efforts, leading to Americans making fun of French military prowess and making anti-French gestures such as re-labeling a favorite food indulgence as “freedom fries.”  But now the French–not us–have embarked on a military invasion of a Muslim country, the West African nation of Mali (a former French colony)  in order to quell al Qaeda terrorism and the establishment of an Islamist state.  Not only that, this is the work of the left-wing socialist government of President Francois Hollande, who is as far from a George W. Bush figure as one could imagine.  Evidently, the war on terrorism and fighting back against Islamic jihad is not necessarily a right/left, conservative/liberal issue. [Read more...]

“In a struggle against all the musicians of the world”

The nation of Mali has Africa’s richest musical tradition and most vibrant musical talent.  But Muslim radicals have taken control of that country and are stamping out the music–destroying instruments, forbidding singing, and driving musicians out of the country.   The article, linked below, is worth reading in its entirety. But I was struck by this quotation:

“Music is against Islam,” said Oumar Ould Hamaha, the military leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, one of the three extremist groups controlling the north. “Instead of singing, why don’t they read the Koran? Why don’t they subject themselves to God and pray? We are not only against the musicians in Mali. We are in a struggle against all the musicians of the world.”

via In northern Mali, music silenced as Islamists drive out artists – The Washington Post.

Does anyone know where this attitude comes from?  Does the Koran specifically forbid music?  (I understand how its iconoclasm restricts visual art, but music is art without images.)  What is it in the radical Islamic worldview that sets it against music?   And, conversely, what is it in the Christian worldview that has made it so open to music–more than that, so creative and  influential musically?

Islamo-Christian civilization?

Some people are objecting to the notion that we have a “Judeo-Christian” civilization, arguing instead that what we have is an “Islamo-Christian” civilization.  See Does It Make Sense to Speak of Judeo-Christian Civilization? » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

The reason we can speak of the former–even though the Jews were persecuted and marginalized– is that the formative text for Western civilization has been the BIBLE.  The Hebrew scriptures communicate a world view that, despite a whole array of religious differences, has become authoritative for Jews, Christians, and even (though they won’t admit it) secularists.

There is nothing like that commonality between Christians and Muslims.

Ten more years of the drone war

The war in Iraq is pretty much over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, bringing to an end our wars sparked by 9/11–right?  Well, not exactly.  It turns out the drone war may go on for at least another ten years.  The Obama administration has put together a systematic, on-going kill list.  But in an Orwellian touch, it’s not called a kill list; rather, it’s called a “disposition matrix.”  From Greg Miller of the Washington Post:

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.

Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

via Plan for hunting terrorists signals U.S. intends to keep adding names to kill lists – The Washington Post.

With that milestone, if we practiced the old “eye-for-an-eye” collectivist revenge codes, we could call it even and declare peace.  But the killings are going to go on and on for another ten years!  I am astonished that it’s liberal Democrats who are doing this.  George McGovern, who passed away this week, took the Democratic party, for better or for worse, in the direction of peace.  Aren’t any of you Democrats bothered by Obama’s drone war?  I wish the moderator at the last debate had asked about this topic.  I’d be curious if Romney would continue this “disposition matrix” or if he really is the peace candidate.  I mean, it’s good to protect America against our enemies and all, and drone strikes don’t put our military men and women in danger.  But while we are attacking people overseas with these weapons, we are at war and not peace.

"Anti-Christianism" TV

Maria-TV is a new Egyptian television station, all of whose employees are women.  Though it’s getting attention in the West because all of its broadcasters wear the niqab, the total covering except for a slit for the eyes, the purpose of the station is to battle Christianity.  (The crusade for all Egyptian women to wear niqab, which the pre-revolutionary secular regime discouraged, itself targets women who are Coptic Christians, whose, of course, reject the veil, making them easily identified.)  This story includes a new word that, unfortunately, may get more and more currency:  “Anti-Christianism.”

Maria TV’s owner, Ahmed Abdallah, is a prominent Salafist preacher, well known in Egypt for his anti-Christian rhetoric. Abdallah and his son Islam, the channel’s chief executive, were arrested last month for burning a Bible during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11.

And while the women who work for Maria TV said they want to promote their belief that all Egyptian women should be covered, the channel also serves as a vehicle for what the chief executive said was an effort to dim the influence of Christianity in the Muslim-majority region. . . .

The all-female Maria TV launched July 19, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, broadcasting for four hours each day using al-Ummah’s satellite frequency. The channel takes its name from Maria al-Qibtiyya, an enslaved Coptic Christian from Egypt who became one of the wives of the prophet Muhammad. The name represents “transferring from slavery to freedom, from Christianity to Islam,” the chief executive said. . . .

The women at the channel say they find it ironic that the niqab is often seen as a symbol of oppression. “My freedom is Islam, my freedom to talk from my niqab, work in my niqab, go to university in my niqab,” the manager said. “So I am trying to bring across the idea that every human has a right to live and choose the lifestyle they find appropriate.”

During the interview, Islam Ahmed Abdallah stood up to answer a cellphone that had been ringing inside a plastic bag. After switching it off, he explained that it belonged to a former Coptic Christian his team had recently converted to Islam. New converts are not allowed to use technological devices during their first three months as Muslims, to prevent relatives or other loved ones from trying to make them reconsider, he said.

Makram-Ebeid, the Coptic woman who served in parliament, said some of her fellow Christians are terrified by what they see as a “wave of anti-Christianism.”

via Egypt’s Maria TV pitches strict vision of Islam – The Washington Post.