Banning the burqa

The actual subject of Michael Gerson’s column, quoted above, is the vogue in a number of European countries to ban the burqa, the Islamic garb that swaths women so that their bodies cannot be seen.  After criticizing the practice, Gerson criticizes the atempts to outlaw it:

The motives of European leaders in this controversy are less sympathetic. Some speak deceptively (and absurdly) of a security motive for banning Islamic covering. Who knows what they are hiding? But by this standard, the war on terrorism would mandate the wearing of bikinis. The real purpose of burqa bans is to assert European cultural identity — secular, liberal and individualistic — at the expense of a visible, traditional religious minority. A nation such as France, proudly relativistic on most issues, is convinced of its cultural superiority when it comes to sexual freedom. A country of topless beaches considers a ban on excessive modesty. The capital of the fashion world, where women are often overexposed and objectified, lectures others on the dignity of women.

via Michael Gerson – Europe’s burqa rage.

If the freedom of religion is an important principle for us Christians, we need to defend the freedom of religion for non-Christians as well.  Don’t we?  Do you see how this is different from outlawing widow burning?

Either ignoring or capitulating to Islam

A sobering piece by Mark Steyn:

What with the Fort Hood mass murderer, the Christmas Pantybomber, and now the Times Square bomber, you may have noticed a little uptick in attempted terrorist attacks on the U.S. mainland in the last few months.

Rep. Lamar Smith did, and, at the House Judiciary Committee, he was interested to see if the attorney general of the United States thought there might be any factor in common between these perplexingly diverse incidents.

“In the case of all three attempts in the last year, the terrorist attempts, one of which was successful, those individuals have had ties to radical Islam,” said Representative Smith. “Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?”

“Because of . . . ?”

“Radical Islam,” repeated Smith.

“There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions,” replied Eric Holder noncommittally. “I think you have to look at each individual case.”

The congressman tried again. “Yes, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?”

“There are a variety of reasons why people . . . ”

“But was radical Islam one of them?”

“There are a variety of reasons why people do things,” the attorney general said again. “Some of them are potentially religious . . . ” Stuff happens. Hard to say why.

“Okay,” said Smith. “But all I’m asking is if you think, among those variety of reasons, radical Islam might have been one of the reasons that the individuals took the steps that they did.”

“You see, you say ‘radical Islam,’” objected Holder. “I mean, I think those people who espouse a — a version of Islam that is not . . . ”

“Are you uncomfortable attributing any actions to radical Islam?” asked Smith. “It sounds like it.”

And so on, and so forth. At Ford Hood, Major Hasan jumped on a table and gunned down his comrades while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” — which is Arabic for “Nothing to see here” and an early indicator of pre-post-traumatic stress disorder. The Times Square bomber, we are assured by the Washington Post, CNN, and Newsweek, was upset by foreclosure proceedings on his house. Mortgage-related issues. Nothing to do with months of training at a Taliban camp in Waziristan.

Listening to Attorney General Holder, one is tempted to modify Trotsky: You may not be interested in Islam, but Islam is interested in you. Islam smells weakness at the heart of the West. The post–World War II order is dying: The European Union’s decision to toss a trillion dollars to prop up a Greek economic model that guarantees terminal insolvency is merely the latest manifestation of the chronic combination of fiscal profligacy and demographic decline in the West at twilight. Islam is already the biggest supplier of new Europeans and new Canadians, and the fastest-growing demographic in the Western world. Therefore, it thinks it not unreasonable to shape the character of those societies — not by blowing up buildings and airplanes, but by determining the nature of their relationship to Islam.

via Nicking Our Public Discourse – Mark Steyn – National Review Online.

He goes on to cite how Muslim states have taken over the UN Human Rights council; the Metropolitan Museum of Art has retired its collection of Islamic art depicting Muhammed (without even being threatened); and, incredibly, the American Academy of Pediatricians is changing its policy to allow a limited form of female genital mutilation.

Western civilization, having completely lost its basis and paralyzed by self-criticism, no longer has confidence in itself. As a result, it has become a pushover for a newly-aggressive Islam.

Iraqi Christians erect statue of Jesus

How about this for a defiant, death-defying public confession of faith?

The Christians of northern Iraq have chosen to defy mounting attacks by extremists by erecting a statue of Jesus modelled on the giant Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

The sculpture is only a tenth of the size of the 40-metre (130-foot) iconic statue that towers over the Brazilian city, but it has become a popular site for visitors in Hamdaniya, the north’s largest Christian town.

“The idea of the statue is not to say Christians were here in case we leave,” said Bashar Jarjees Habash, the city’s coordinator of Christian affairs. “But the idea of building the statue of Jesus opening his arms is to send a message of peace to everyone to say that we want to live in peace with all,” said the 48-year-old. “The people of this area have always tried to live in peace with everyone, even those who fight and threaten them.”

In February, Human Rights Watch called on Iraq’s government to do more to bolster security and protect Christians after a string of deadly attacks on the community ahead of last month’s elections.

“The statue might be small if we compare it with what Christians did for Iraq over hundreds of years. The statue is stone and can be removed at any time, but the history of Christians cannot be abolished,” said Habash. “We have a great history, we are very loyal to Iraq,” added the official charged by the church with preserving religious monuments.

The brick and plaster structure is in the middle of Hamdaniya, a city populated by 45,000 mostly Syriac Christians as well as a Kurdish Muslim community that makes up about 10 percent of the inhabitants.

Its construction was initiated and carried out by two local security guards who also have artistic skills. Using their bare hands, it was a labour of love. “With the help of 20 volunteers, we built the statue in less than a month and we spent about 150,000 dinars (128 dollars),” said one of them, Alaa Naser Matti. . . .

“We have chosen to make a Jesus with open arms because it means that the city has been placed under his protection and he wants to spread peace in Iraq,” said the 41-year-old.

via <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jwOrnvOa-jzNyIWYTOzeVtrlu7ag">AFP: Iraq Christians defy threats to erect Rio-like Jesus statue.

Click the link to see the picture, which I couldn’t copy for some reason.

Jihad Jane

Colleen LaRose is a white, middle-class suburbanite from Pennsylvania.  She became a terrorist recruiter known on the Internet as Jihad Jane.  She was arrested for her involvement in a plot to kill the Swedish cartoonist whose caricature of Mohammed inflamed the Islamic world.

Jihad Jane

from  BBC News – Profile: ‘Jihad Jane’ from Main Street:

The blonde middle-aged woman apparently raised no concerns with her boyfriend or her neighbours on Main Street, Pennsburg, near Philadelphia.

But online she had allegedly agreed to kill in the name of holy war, believing her European looks would allow her to blend in among Swedes as she homed in on her target.

Colleen LaRose, according to a US court indictment, posted messages online under the name Jihad Jane, expressing her desire to participate in jihad, or holy war.

Arrested in October 2009, Ms LaRose had exchanged emails over 15 months to recruit fighters for “violent jihad”.

Her activities apparently came as a surprise to her boyfriend Kurt Gorman, whom she met in 2005.

Mr Gorman told Associated Press: “She was a good-hearted person. She pretty much stayed around the house.” . . .

“Only death will stop me here that I am so close to the target!” she is accused of writing.

A Department of Justice statement said Ms LaRose and five others “recruited men on the internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad”.

Ms LaRose, a US citizen born in 1963, is charged with “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft.”

She was apparently approached by others after she posted a video on YouTube in June 2008, saying she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” ease the suffering of Muslims, the indictment said.

Web images show her wearing a Muslim headscarf, but Mr Gorman said he never saw anything like that at their home, nor did she attend any religious services.

Unknown to him, she had allegedly agreed to travel to Sweden and kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had angered Muslims by drawing the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.

As the folks at Get Religion complain, the media has done hardly any reporting on the religious angle, which is surely the biggest question of this story: How and why did Colleen LaRose become a radical Muslim? What is the attraction of a religion like that, especially to someone of Ms. LaRose’s demographic? Any ideas?

From jihadist prince to Israeli spy to Christian convert

You have got to read the story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of the founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, who became an Israeli spy and then a convert to Christianity.  How did that latter part happen?  It was very simple:

During those quiet years he met a British cabbie in Jerusalem who gave him an English-Arabic copy of the New Testament and invited him to attend a bible study session at their hotel. “I found that I was really drawn to the grace, love and humility that Jesus talked about,” he says in “Son of Hamas.” . . .

“I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love. I didn’t leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion. At the same time it’s a beautiful thing to see my God exist in my life and see the change in my life. I see that when he does exist in other Middle Easterners there will be a change.

“I’m not trying to convert the entire nation of Israel and the entire nation of Palestine to Christianity. But at least if you can educate them about the ideology of love, the ideology of forgiveness, the ideology of grace. Those principles are great regardless, but we can’t deny they came from Christianity as well.”

Mr. Yousef says he felt burned out and decided to stop working for the Shin Bet in 2006, against their wishes. He made his way to friends in southern California whom he’d met through bible study.

As the son of a Muslim cleric, he says he had reached the conclusion that terrorism can’t be defeated without a new understanding of Islam. Here he echoes other defectors from Islam such as the former Dutch parliamentarian and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Do you consider your father a fanatic? “He’s not a fanatic,” says Mr. Yousef. “He’s a very moderate, logical person. What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he’s doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn’t matter if he’s a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don’t want to admit this is an ideological war.

“The problem is not in Muslims,” he continues. “The problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to.”

via Weekend Interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef: ‘They Need to Be Liberated From Their God’ – WSJ.com.

Over 500 Christians slaughtered in Nigeria

Muslims in Nigeria have massacred over 500 Christians in a horrific outbreak of violence:

UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Washington led calls for restraint on Monday after the slaughter of more than 500 Christians in Nigeria, as survivors told how the killers chopped down their victims.Funerals took place for victims of the three-hour orgy of violence on Sunday in three Christian villages close to the northern city of Jos, blamed on members of the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group.

While troops were deployed to the villages to prevent new attacks, security forces detained 95 suspects but faced bitter criticism over how the killers were able to go on the rampage at a time when a curfew was meant to be in force.Media reported that Muslim residents of the villages in Plateau state had been warned by phone text message, two days prior to the attack, so they could make good their escape before the exit points were sealed off.

Survivors said the attackers were able to separate the Fulanis from members of the rival Berom group by chanting “nagge”, the Fulani word for cattle. Those who failed to respond in the same language were hacked to death.

One local paper said the gangs shouted Allah Akhbar God is Great before breaking into homes and setting them alight in the early hours of Sunday. Churches were among the buildings that were burned down.

via AFP: Appeals for calm after Nigerian sectarian slaughter.