Fighting extremism

Voice of America’s Judith Latham has found a bit of news that seems rather significant but has received little attention from other more mainstream news outlets.

Muslim scholars in the United States and Canada released a judicial ruling — or fatwa — last week saying that Islam condemns terrorism, religious extremism, and violence against civilians. A response to last month’s bombings in London and Egypt, the fatwa also reflects the gravity of the struggle within Islam between moderates and extremists.

Speaking with host Judith Latham of VOA News Now’s International Press Club, Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, a columnist for the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, said she sees the war on terrorism since 9/11 as a small part of a much larger religious and intellectual struggle within Islam. She described that struggle as being waged between people like herself, who believe in a “more moderate, progressive way” of following a religion they hold dearly, and others who claim their interpretation of Islam is the “only true one.” And furthermore, she said, they don’t believe in pluralism and “hate anyone who is against the ideology they follow.”

Yes, VOA is a government news organization, but that does not mean the bit of news Latham has uncovered is any less significant. The interview with Eltahawy gives us a glimpse of the ideological struggle within Islam. From what I know, some argue that Islam never went through a reformation and others say Islam lacks a central authority figure akin to the Pope. Whatever it is, Islam is going to struggle with the issue of radical terrorism for some years to come.

Update: The Associated Press is carrying a story that says critics within the Muslim community in the United States are saying the “fatwa” condemning terrorism is too broad.

The fatwa condemning religious extremism recently issued by American Muslim groups was so broad it was meaningless, and should have denounced specific terrorist groups including al Qaeda, critics within the U.S. Muslim community say.

Critics also say the declaration seemed geared more toward improving the faith’s image rather than starting an honest discussion about Islamic teaching.

“The bulk of the Islamic tradition as it exists does stand against these lunatic, savage attacks on civilians,” said Omid Safi, a Colgate University religion professor and chairman of the Progressive Muslim Union, an American reform group.

Imagine that, a divide among Muslims over the issue of extremism.

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  • Graham Reeves

    This fatwa seems to me as binding as a statement by the NCC or some group of “people of faith.” In other words, not much.

  • Stephen A.

    This story actually did receive some good coverage on CNN and most other cable outlets. I also saw the AP story in my local paper.

    If done right, a fatwa can be rather influential, or as Graham points out, not. I believe it depends on who issues it. This gives an appearance of being a rather powerful group of U.S. clerics, but I could be wrong.

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    I would agree that a condemnation of Islamic extremism by an american muslim group would be too broad. Too broad from the perspective of Iraqi patriots, for example.

    The issue of such a condemnation being too broad, or too narrow, could only be accessed within some context. So, John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry would be considered innappropriate from the point of view of the southern slave holders, or the northern politicians interested in Union preservation. However, it might not be considered too extreme from the perspective of someone who thought slavery itself was a crime.

    Whereas the bombing of civilians is considered a crime against humanity, such bombings were american policy through most of WW II when the US air force dropped bombs on civilian targets in Germany and Japan. Even though the bombing of civilians was considered criminal when performed by the Germans or the Japanese, the US position at Nuremberg was to overlook its own complicity.

    So, a fatwa condemning all extremism, including the bombing of innocent civilians, would be too broad because the U.S. engages in the same kind of atrocities. It’s too broad in the sense that the U.S. would just ignore it.

  • tmatt

    The other question: Do statements of this kind help or hurt when considering the anger levels of the extreme Muslims who have already rejected moderate Islam and are, thus, looking for more reasons to attack cultures in which assimilation is taking place?

    Mind you, the moderates have free speech. More power to them. I am talking about effects, not rights.

  • Stephen A.

    Sorry, I just can’t let this slide.

    Steven, if you’re trying to compare the U.S. either with today’s al Quaeda terrorists, you’re wildly out of bounds here. There is no comparison and no equivalency.

    If American troops were stringing dead civilians up from the rafters of bridges, blowing up mosques on Friday afternoons, killing 100 Iraqis for every one of our soldiers that were killed, or capturing, torturing and beheading Iraqis and broadcasting it on CNN, or seeking to exterminate an entire race, you might have a case that we were just as bad as them.

    But they aren’t, and you can’t make that case.

    There is no holy war against Islam. Sorry to destroy your illusions.

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    My point has to do, in part, with the argument that we really only have a responsibility to mind ourselves. So, if others have been unfair, cruel, abusive, or criminal, our first responsibility is to resist the temptation to follow suit. I take it this has to do with dealing first with the mote in one’s own eye before you deal with the vision of others.

    With this in mind, the invasion of Iraq is a crime against humanity and peace, a capital crime by the principles of Nuremberg. The argument that the fact that the people of Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 or world terrorism should not protect them from our war machine has made our moral position equivalent to Hitler’s.

    Bush has declared, thereby, that my Dad was a fool to fight in the Pacific to prevent countries like Japan or Germany from invading others. He was a fool because if we’d have only had the more enlightened rule of Bush, we would have found out that Hitler had it right. It’s not such a bad thing to invade foreign countries, steal their valuables, and kill anyone who might object, if only we say it’s for their own good.

    Just because american troops refrain from the tactics of others, does not absolve them from the basic crimes we have committed. So, if I steal from my neighbor, I don’t really get any points for not beating him up first or afterward in doing it.

    On the other hand, if you break into my house, threaten my children, steal my valuables, maybe just accidentally shoot my wife, then it would be understandable for me to try to use force to evict you. I think your parents might be upset if I shoot you in trying to get you to leave, but if your parents had really cared about your safety they would have spent more time teaching you it wasn’t right to rob and murder.

    All I’m saying is the fatwa against extremism by american muslims is too broad if it condemns anyone for trying to protect their family from brutal thugs.

    Furthermore, I am not claiming anything about there being a holy war against Islam. It would not have been true to claim that Hitler had declared a holy war against white people just because he had invaded France or the Soviet Union. However, american muslims probably feel it’s necessary to come up with their fatwa because they have reason to think Americans blame Islam in general for terrorism.

    Again, there is no evidence provided about what prompted this statement by the american muslims. But, given the U.S. government invaded Iraq, killing tens of thousands of people for the alleged crimes of their leadership, their fear is probably well founded.

    Nor did I wish to muddy the distinction between Al Queda and Iraq resistance to our criminal invasion. I am not persuaded that Iraq has ever had much to do with Al Queda, or that it had anything to do with 9-11 or other attacks on american possessions. I am not persuaded partly because there has never been a good argument to make such a connection.

    Let’s say 9-11 was committed by a definite number of individuals. It would have then been a crime which should have been dealt with as we deal with other crimes. To instead go out and extract revenge on the innocent family members of whom you suspect, but don’t know, committed that crime, this act of revenge is itself a crime. So, this is why vigilantes are not encouraged. Whereas we had the support of most everyone to go after the perpetrators of 9-11 crimes under the law, we ourselves were wrong to go beyond what the law or justice called for.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    Mr. Andresen’s contention that there has “never” been a good argument for invading Iraq would certainly be news to the 99 Senators that voted for the authorization to use force to remove Saddam, for a long laundry list of offenses, including among other things giving aid and harbor to Al Qaeda; not to mention Saddam’s flouting of several UN resolutions, and his continuous attempts (unsuccessful though they may have been) to acquire the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Mr. Andresen’s credulity in further asserting that the US Army consists of “brutal thugs” who indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of civilians is similarly appalling.

    To stretch his analogy a little, would Mr. Andresen consider blowing up his whole neighborhood a justified response to the intrusion? Yes, I could understand that Iraqis would feel the need to protect their homes from American intruders, and I wouldn’t at all blame them. But as often as not, the suicide bombings happening in Iraq are aimed at Iraqi civilians, in an attempt to derail the formation of a democratic government. Most Iraqis are happier that Saddam is gone, and would like us out so they can form their own government. I am only too happy to oblige, myself.

    I’d also like to know what we stole from Iraq, with specifics, other than the recycled talking point that “we’re only there for the oil”. I’m still paying over $2.20 a gallon, so that much surely hasn’t had a beneficial effect on our economy.

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    My understanding of the relevant international laws provides a limited number of reasons that could justify any invasion of one country by another. Included in that limited list is the fact that the country to be invaded is in fact a threat or danger to the offended country. This threat or danger must be something like, is being at present carrying on military actions against the offended country.

    Not included on that list are the reasons Matthew cites as justifying our invasion of Iraq. So, it has been alleged that Iraq gave aid to and harbored Al Queda. This point has been disputed sometimes on the grounds that Hussein’s regime was a secular state opposed to the religious movement represented by Al Queda. It has also been disputed because there isn’t very much evidence of such support. However, even if the regime of Saddam Hussein could have been shown to support Al Queda, such support does not qualify as the kind of provocation that would justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    Despite the fact that flouting of U.N. resolutions is a serious matter, such that serious sanctions should be considered, the fact that Iraq may have done such “flouting” does not in itself qualify as a justification for one country or its allies to invade and enforce the occupatiuon of that “flouting” country. If “flouting” of U.N. resolutions would justify these kinds of invasions, then there would be many other countries including the allies of the U.S. that we should also be invading.

    Despite the claims of President Bush that the Iraqi government had been continuously building the infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons, and would soon be capable of launching such an attack, there was evidence during the time when the Congress was asked to support military action that such claims had no basis in fact. So, the U.N inspectors could find no such evidence despite much time and effort within Iraq to find it. There were also statements from members of the U.S. intelligence community stating that there were in fact no efforts by Iraq to obtain nuclear materials from African countries, despite the claims by the Bush administration. This is the controversy now addressed by the Downing Street memo.

    The fact that no such weapons, nor anything that could count as a nuclear weapons making infrastructure, has been found in Iraq after the invasion only confirms what we had good reason to believe before the invasion.

    My point is that there may have been reasons to look closely at the capabilities of Iraq, and to be cautious, but Iraq did not then provide the kind of threat to the U.S. or even its neighbors that would justify by the standards of international law our invasion.

    Matthew believes it likely that, given my argument, I think the Iraqi’s would be justified if they blew up my neighborhood, and my friends and family, in order to protect their homes from american intruders. When he says, “Yes, I could understand that Iraqis would feel the need to protect their homes from American intruders, and I wouldn’t at all blame them,” it sounds as though he understands such a response and would not blame them.

    I’m not sure whether he therefore endorses my way of understanding the Iraqi’s position. It would seem he does by saying that as they have been unjustly invaded he would not blame them for bombing my neighborhood.

    I don’t think my argument commits me to any endorsement of Iraqi bombings of my neighborhood or anyone’s family and friends. If they did, I would blame them, even though I can understand why they may do it. I can understand it and because of my understanding condemn it, just as out of my understanding of what we have done to Iraq I want to condemn our actions.

    There are other responses to the aggression of others. So, for example, if another country supports a terrorist army that for years engages in the assasination of its teachers, doctors, union leaders, rural water engineers, and so forth, you could take that offending country to court. Nicaragua brought a suit against the United States for various crimes committed against the people of Nicaragua during its terrorist war supported by the Reagan administration. Nicaragua won its case and was granted a judgement of 10 billion dollars in damages. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these international remedies for aggression are limited whan the countries involved refuse to recognize the force of international law.

    It’s this kind of flouting of the law that makes people think the only thing Americans appreciate is the force of violence.

    It should not be surprising that the bombers are going after Iraqi collaborators. The Americans are just too well protected. But, any effort to impose a government in Iraq will depend on the cooperation of those Iraqi’s who, as they will be described, can be bought off. But, I don’t see how any good can come of our democratizing effort, nor that our creation of democracy there, justifies our continued presence. Furthermore, if we look at what happened in Iran after our interventions there, those political efforts that could be tied to U.S. influence themselves caused years of conflict. Our presence will merely give us a bad name because fighting against us will be justified as a fight for democracy and freedom from us.

    I claimed that the reason we invaded Iraq had to do with the valuables Iraq had, with the implication that I could explain what we stole that justifies to the robbers our invasion. Well, I do think in large part it was the oil. But beyond the physical assets, there’s the control of their country and their future that we stole from them. If the British had won back the country in 1812, we could say now they stole the control of our country and our futures when they did so.

    I think I understand why Matthew thinks the arguments I make, particularly the comparisons I’ve made between the US Army and “brutal thugs” is appalling. He may want to defend the american soldier. He thinks my arguments fail to consider the efforts of the Congress, for example, to consider these issues and to vote in accordance with their good intelligence and better information. He thinks my points do not need to be addressed because, apparently, they haven’t made any difference to the people who make these decisions.

    For example, he did not address my argument that we have an obligation to make sure we do not engage in the kind of violence, secrecy, and deceptions of our opponents. I can see many good reasons to doubt the practicality of such a recommendation. However, he did not discuss any of them. Instead, he observes that my obvious opposition to the way things have been done in this country, and the implications I want to draw about the morality of our actions is appalling to him. Well, if he agrees with my point about our first obligation to do no evil ourselves, then he has no argument that, though he thinks my position is appalling, we shouldn’t think, appalling though my view may be to Matthew, I’m nevertheless right about it all.

    Opposition to this war does involve the pointing out to those who support it the various reasons why such opposition is required. It may seem that these details make the views of wars opponents apopaling or uncomfortable to consider. It may be that the opponents don’t have their facts correct, or their moral reasoning is mistaken. I’d like to see that argument from Matthew.

    As far as I can see, the american soldier would be best served by them having good work to do, not these things we’ve asked of them in Iraq.

  • http://none mark

    the whole against extremest thing concerning islam in america…i am a follower of christ. christ is god. i have a problem with any one other than someone who knows christ is god, judging me on what they define as extremism. i will in no way, shape, or form, ally myself with islam or allah…as it is taught by my lord. the efforts within islam to relax the strict adherance of their rules…and persecute the ones with more extremist views, is dangerous…in that its focus is one the main body of dedicated readers, studiers, and practioners of the entire religion, that when gone…little is left in way of educated knowledge of their writings. but its monkey see, monkey do…so christians will be expected to do the same, as soon as this denial to ally, as commanded by god…or a denial to make light of in respect of any man or organization, one jot or tittle of his holy word, will be considered as extremism, though a true christian should not commit chaos or destruction, and the loss of life at a mans hand is devistating…even by accident its horrific. even in war, declared or not…i would never take a mans life on purpose. as jesus commanded. but true letter followers of christ can also be considered extremists, or fanatics…so what now.

  • Stephen A.

    Mr. Andresen, apparently you believe expressing opposition to the war means you can pretend the history of Iraq before 2003 didn’t exist, or, like Sean Penn, that the “peace-loving” leaders of Iraq simply wanted to be left alone, but mean old America intruded on that blessed paradise and its benevolent dictator.

    There are precious few who believe that the U.S. went to Iraq to “steal” oil, and they include Osama and his bloodthirsty murders and fringe Marxists in the U.S. and Europe. The rest of us know better that to swallow the conspiracy theories.

    Osama and his cronies still contend we’re “stealing” oil from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Yeah, we “steal” it to the tune of $61 a barrel.

    And pray tell, where is the religious element in this extreme Leftist vilification of America we’ve been subjected to? Or did you mean to post this stuff on the Wonkette’s blog?

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    “…apparently you believe expressing opposition to the war means you can pretend the history of Iraq before 2003 didn’t exist…”

    Stephen suggests here that my opposition to our invasion of Iraq is undermined by my ignoring important facts involving the history and nature of Iraq. He also suggests that my view reflects a naive assessment of an “innocent” Iraq facing a “bullying” america.

    I have a rudimentary understanding of that history, and an understanding of the relationship existing between us. I could be wrong about these particulars, but I think not. Stephen, however, has not attempted to point out what he thinks my failures or mistakes might be. He assumes, I think, that his challenge to my view makes it so.

    I remember that the current President’s father and members of his administration supported Hussein at times when the rest of the world wanted to challenge the legality and morality of his war against Iran. There are photos of these Bush admin. officials making deals with Hussein. Much of the makings for the weapons of mass destruction that we are now complaining of were sold to him by these officials.

    These facts make it difficult to believe the U.S. is now interested only in the welfare of the Iraqi people.

    But, more important than the fact that we have a history with Iraq, is my contention that the history does not matter to the question whether we were justified in invading the country. Iraq was not the threat to us that the President made him out to be, and so our actions were not justified. As a result, our invasion itself was a crime.

    Stephen wonders what the religious connection is to my argument. Or, in his words, “where is the religious element in this extreme Leftist vilification of America we’ve been subjected to?” And he has a good question. But, where I have a story about what that connection might be, I also wonder about Stephen’s understanding of the religious connection. After all, what’s fair for the goose, requires the gander to come up with his own story.

    I think we have an obligation to obtain justice. I don’t think we are doing that in Iraq right now. I’ve given my reasons for why I think we have gone wrong.

    Jesus would not have us do anything unless we had good reasons. So my religious challenge to Stephen is to come up with a better argument.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    Mr. Andresen misunderstood my argument about blowing up the neighborhood: I was posing the hypothetical situation of *him* blowing up his own neighborhood as a response to his hypothetical about a random thug invading his home. I was not referring to the Iraqis at all, in that sentence. I did, however, compare that hypothetical situation with the real situation of Iraqis suicide-bombing other Iraqis. Just wanted to make that clear.

    I still disagree with Mr. Andresen’s assessment of the available intelligence about whether Iraq had attempted to acquire nuclear weapons in Africa. Joe Wilson’s report, contrary to popular myth, indicated that Iraq had in fact tried to make a deal to acquire uranium. The Senate investigation into the claims made by Joe Wilson over the “16 words” in Bush’s State of the Union address makes this absolutely clear. Furthermore, the outright statement that Senior Bush gave Saddam the makings for WMDs is certainly reason to suspect that Iraq had those capabilities!

    Basically, I disagree that history doesn’t matter in the decision-making process. History matters a great deal, and was primarily what Bush & Co. had to go on. If we were wrong to go in, fine; I can understand why Mr. Andresen thinks that. But I don’t believe that Bush made a manifestly horrendous decision based on what he knew at the time. And I certainly don’t believe that Bush is the moral equivalent of Hitler or even Saddam, or that American GIs are the moral equivalent of the Gestapo merely based on where they are located. I think Bush was trying to prevent more 9/11s, and had reason to believe that invading Iraq was necessary to that end.

    Mr. Andresen still hasn’t presented anything deeper than his hunch to assert that Iraq is about oil, and he is choosing to ignore American attempts to actually help build Iraq’s infrastructure (as we did in Japan following the morally awkward decision to drop the bomb) in his ethical judgment. I suppose Mr. Andresen thinks that Iraqis under Saddam really believed that they controlled their country and their future.

    I certainly don’t believe that America is perfect, or that Americans have conducted themselves above reproach. But several of Mr. Andresen’s arguments rest on the assumptions that Bush is an evil genius and that America is accomplishing nothing of positive moral value in Iraq right now, neither of which I hold.

  • Stephen A.

    Well, the original post by Daniel had to do with Islam’s reaction to terrorist violence, not whether the U.S. was right to invade Iraq.

    So you’ve been spilling millions of electrons about the wrong topic, on the wrong blog, and I’m not getting drawn in.

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    “Mr. Andresen misunderstood my argument about blowing up the neighborhood…”

    Well, yes, I did mistake exactly what Matthew was suggesting. In answer to his question, at this moment, I’d not consider blowing up my own neighborhood in response to having a random thug invade my home.

    Perhaps his point in making this suggestion is to make the case that the Iraqi bombers have been completely inappropriate in their response to our being there. As he said, the american force has tried to “actually help build Iraq’s infrastructure.” He also suggests they should be grateful that we unburdened them of Hussein.

    It’s hard for me to gauge what the appropriate response by the Iraqi’s should be. I suspect, there are many who have tried to ignore as much as possible the fact that they are an occupied country. Maybe there are others who are just resentful. Some may participate in some form of resistance. In a country of about 16 million, there’s only a small percentage who consider blowing themselves up over it. However, again, the bombers may be innappropriate from our position, the point of view of the invader, or those who have been injured by these bombs.

    However, we’ve gone to war ourselves faced with similar provacation.

    The point I would try to make, however, is that we must first make sure our own actions are pure. So, the question of whether the bombers are monsters is a different question from the one we should be asking of ourselves,i.e., whether we have caused this suffering, and whether it’s caused for any good reason.

    I appreciate Matthew saying that the President based his argument that we should invade Iraq on our history. Matthew says, in fact, that that’s primarily what he looked at. I want to suggest why I think the history isn’t enough to justify such a decision.

    Suppose we grant that the united states under several Presidents had been selling Hussein both conventional and weapons of mass destruction, things like poison gas, the makings for biological weapons, and assorted boxes of torture equipment to be used by their security forces. Suppose we gave him intelligence that allowed him to carry on a more effective war with his neighbor Iran. Suppose we trained his people in the School of the Americas, the institution where the U.S. trains many of the world’s torturers, assassins, and terrorists. Suppose also, when the rest of the world objected to the policies and practices of Iraq’s government, the U.S. protected it from legal sanctions. Just suppose.

    So, we would be in a very good position to know what the Hussein government would be capable of doing.

    Suppose also we know that for the ten years after the first war between the U.S. and Iraq there had been a constant presence of american war planes and other armed forces within Iraq and in its skies. Suppose the infrastructure of Iraq had been so degraded by that initial war that 500,000 children had died just from factors related to that damage.

    Suppose, also, that the United Nations inspectors had been looking within Iraq for any evidence of dangerous weapons including nuclear, chemical, and biological, and found none.

    These are some of the factors that I consider in assessing whether our invasion of the country was justified.

    I also have been under the impression that just because a person has been a bully or a criminal all of his life, we are obligated to allow that he could change his ways. We are obligated to give people the benefit of the doubt when the issue is whether or not we are going to throw hand grenades into his house because we suspect his past behavior is a threat to us.

    The problem with the grenades is not just the fact that we should expect to maim the innocent members of his family who live with him. But, we have no good reason to firebomb the place when we know the guy is just cowering in his bathroom.

    That is, the guy has the right to be arrested if you have any charges against him. The police, or armed forces, in this case, do not have the luxury of acting like vigilantes.

    Matthew does not think, as I do, that Bush made a horrendous decision. He thinks that the President duly considered the evidence and risks at hand and made the best decision he could on behalf of the safety of Americans. Instead, I think he was too hasty, did not let less violent methods to disarm Iraq work, in some cases tinkered with the available evidence so it appeared more damning than it had a right to be, and was cavalier about the lives of not just Americans, but the Iraqis who stood to suffer from our attacks.

    All of this goes before one considers the possibility that the decision to invade was not based on an assessment of Hussein’s threat to us, but on other factors.

    So, some believe there are sinister reasons behind the war, Robert Jenson, for example, said,

    “…It seems clear that the war plans are not about protecting people, but about projecting power. The transparent goal of a Bush war is to extend and deepen U.S. control over the strategically crucial oil resources of the Middle East. A compliant puppet government in Bagdad will solidify U.S. power in the region, through influence over the flow of oil and the establishment of what would almost certainly become a permanent U.S. base and staging area for other military actions in the area.” (Oct. 8, 2002)

    I understand that Prof. Jensen’s claim merely stated doesn’t make it so. Nor does the assertion of my doubts about the virtue of the President’s war make me right about it. The issue, I think is how we can determine which account of events and the morality involved comes closest to the truth.

    So, I think an election doesn’t decide this question. The electorate’s ability to decide these questions is only as good as the information and argument on the issues available. Instead, we need information about what happened, we need to preserve evidence. We need to have people work to show the President is innocent of these charges, that he manipulated evidence for ulterior purposes, for example. Or, if the evidence shows Prof. Jensen and others correct, then American policy makers need to be reigned in, for the protection of ourselves and others.

    I do not believe the President is an evil genius. This would only put him on a pedestal I don’t think he deserves. There have been many people and institutions complicit in the bad decisions of this war.

    The more important issue is whether the war is the right thing for us to have done and to continue. Matthew thinks our accomplishments are morally positive. He supports this with his claim that history showed Saddam was a real and immediate threat, and the claim that, despite the continuing violence, we are rebuilding the country’s infrastructure in an important way. I don’t think Hussein was a big enough threat, and that improvements in the country cannot make up for the tens of thousands of lives lost.

    This project that started off on the wrong foot, can never do well.

  • http://shandresen.typepad.com steven andresen

    addendum: Yes, Stephen, it did start out about Islamic reactions to extremism. And, I’ve gone on and on about our own. Though their saying extremism is bad is important, seems like we should be talking about our own stuff more.

  • Maureen

    Um…isn’t this the same fatwa that bloggers were calling the “fake fatwa”, because it was signed by people who openly supported terrorism, anti-Semitism, etc. in speeches?

    I thought we were already done with that news cycle!

  • Stephen A.

    Yes, Iraq is an “occupied” country, like post-war Germany and Japan, not like, say, France in 1941-44, or some other horrific image Mr. Andresen would have us imagine.

    We’re “occupying” Iraq while training their military and police as fast as possible, all the while pushing the Iraqis to design a government of their own choosing, in their own way, including whomever they want to include in that process. (And they’re doing a spectacular job of it, despite the media and Leftist spin.)

    Also, the Shi’a and Kurds, who had been at times brutally oppressed under Saddam, are now full participants and are living freely.

    This has to be the lightest occupation in history. We are not the extremists, bud.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    Stephen A. – yeah, this is twice now I’ve gotten caught up in side discussions only tangentially related to the original post. I’ll try to confine myself a little better :)

  • Stephen A.

    Matthew M. – that’s okay, I was also raked in! ;-)


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