Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taboo Query: Islam and Violence?

Piero Gheddo

The Catholic priest Piero Gheddo openly wonders about a mystery. No, not a mystery of the Christian faith, something more mundane than that, a mystery contemplated in an article, "Tunisia in chaos: Why is Islam taboo?" (02/11/2013), published in the Catholic paper Asia News (spelling and punctuation corrected in quote):
The situation today is this: no country with a Muslim majority (and there are more than thirty) has a tolerably democratic government. Many of these are in a state of civil war: Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia. In no country with a Muslim majority is there full religious freedom for Christians and other religions. In some countries where the faithful of the Koran are sizable minority, there are separatist guerrillas and terrorism: Philippines, Thailand, India, China, Burma, Indonesia.
Father Gheddo overstates the case in some of these countries. The expression "civil strife" would describe some of the Muslim majority countries better than "civil war" does. Also, note that Nigeria is not a Muslim majority country -- there are slightly more Christians. And note that Muslims are not a minority in Indonesia! But let's not quibble over details. We know what the man is talking about, and now comes his question:
We all know the latest news, the events of that day-to-day confirm this situation. What is surprising is the fact that the West does not question, does not ask itself where the Islamic world's instability originates and how it propagates, the uprisings, guerrilla warfare, terrorism that breaks out in all or almost all Islamic countries and what can be done to get to the root of this violent extremism, this loose cannon that threatens world peace. When before World War II, Nazism was already an expanding power, the free world discussed it at the popular level, studied the ideology and visited Germany, trying to make deals, it summoned international conferences for world peace. After World War II, when International Communism began to expand, from the 40s to 1989, the danger of contagion was perceptible, measures were discussed to prevent the spread of this ideology-religion, studying the roots of Marxism-Leninism and what to do to counter its spread in the free world. Communism was a threat, it was discussed a lot.

The same does not happen with Islamic extremism, condemned by all but which remains like a mysterious object.
Gheddo doesn't explicitly answer the question, but it's one that a lot of non-Muslims must be asking. Actually, Gheddo asks two questions: 1) what is the source of Islamic 'extremism' and 2) why isn't this question being openly discussed. I have an opinion on both questions. On the latter question, the reason for official silence is political correctness. The mainstream media and governments don't generally address the question for fear of offending multicultural sensitivities, of being accused of Islamophobia, of expressing bias against a 'great' religion, or of some similar offense. Outside of the mainstream, however, the question is being discussed. For instance, in the context of the recent murder of three North Korean doctors working in northern Nigeria, I speculated on what we confront:
This is the sort of civilizational conflict Huntington wrote about, and as he also pointed out, the Islamic world has bloody borders, so we're going to be hearing, seeing, and experiencing the consequences of Islamism for a long time, until the Muslim world discovers the bitter truth that the Protestant-Catholic wars of religion taught the West, namely, that religion should be a private affair of the heart (a lesson we have to keep learning), not a scheme for transforming the world through force, though this lesson might prove harder for the Muslim world to learn since Islam is overtly political, has in its fundamental texts a scheme for ordering the world, and has always been willing to turn to war as an instrument for furthering Islamic aims -- and, yes, I know that all this isn't very politically correct to point out, but I prefer to see the world with open eyes, and I don't think that I'm alone in this attitude.
My point was that Islamism, or political Islam, will be around for a long time fomenting trouble because Islam itself is political, which means that Islamism is radicalism not at the extremes but at the core of Islam, drawing upon core texts and grounding its actions in them.

This should be obvious to everyone by now since the Islamists continually cite core Islamic sources, but as Gheddo notes, the issue is not being openly discussed.

Not yet, anyway. Not quite yet. But I think that it soon will be.

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At 6:02 AM, Blogger ilTassista Marino said...

Father Gheddo is a "voice outside the chorus". He may sometimes be a bit 'rude' and one-sided, but he often asks questions and raises problems that most people, commenters, left-wing catholic intellectuals, etc., don't 'dare' to.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the details, Dario.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

To what do I owe this special honor?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Islam taboo?

1. Influence of House of Saud1807.

2. Postmorernist politicians posing as professors and journalists.

3. Prevailing decadence in the West.

4. Cowardice in the West.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I agree on number 1, though not since 1807, more since the oil wealth. Number 2 should read "Postmodernist," but I'd substitute "Multicultural" -- also "ideologues" rather than "politicians." If number 3 means "decline" of the West, maybe I agree. Number 4 sounds partly right, but I think that a lot of people still have courage.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Forgot my nom de Gypsy Scholar said...

Isn't Albania, Muslim and reasonably free?

At 6:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Albania is a mix of nominal Muslims and nominal Christians. The Albanians are far more nationalist than religious and tend to see their identity in terms of shared ethnicity rather than religion. But you raise a reasonable point.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Forgot my nom de Gypsy Scholar said...

Everybody forgets about poor Albania. Some 45 years ago I had a Pakistani roommate. He vociferously proclaimed that there were no Muslim Communists countries. I pointed out Albania; he continued to state and restate his point.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Even I forgot -- despite blogging on them in the past. Thanks for the reminder.

Jeffery Hodges

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