Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mere Islamophobia?

Abdirizak Bihi
The Daily Caller

According to Charles C. Johnson, the "Somali-American leader [Abdirizak Bihi] . . . 'tried to warn America' about homegrown radicalization" (The Daily Caller, September 23, 2013), but was thwarted by CAIR, one of whose leaders says, "Who cares?":
The Council on American Islamic Relations repeatedly tried to stop a Minnesota community leader from warning about the dangers al-Qaida-linked group posed to the Somali-American community prior to the Kenyan mall massacre.
The Council on American Islamic Relations -- that's CAIR -- is the very group that tried to thwart Abdirizak Bihi's work against the Al-Qaida-style Islamism of Somali-American radicals espousing the views of Al-Shabab, the militant Islamist group that recently attacked the mall in Kenya for three days and killed so many people, but CAIR doesn't care:
[T]he Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has blocked his efforts for years, telling law enforcement agencies . . . that he doesn't know the Somali community and calling him "an Islamophobe" in a recent report.
Naturally, Bihi has to be an Islamophobic Muslim, for he must know from other sources that not Islamist ideology, e.g., the views of Al-Qaida, but rather political economy is the crucial factor in Islamic radicalization, as reported by such mainstream journalism as Reuters in, for example, Pascal Fletcher's "Analysis: Nairobi mall attack strikes at Africa's boom image" (Reuters, September 23, 2013)
From Mali to Algeria, Nigeria to Kenya, violent Islamist groups -- tapping into local poverty, conflict, inequality or exclusion but espousing a similar anti-Western, anti-Christian creed -- are striking at state authority and international interests, both economic and political.

John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, said he believed insurgents like those who rebelled in Mali last year, the Nigerian Boko Haram Islamist sect and the Nairobi mall raiders were also partly motivated by anger with what he called "pervasive malgovernance" in Africa.

"This is undoubtedly anti-Western and anti-Christian but it also taps into a lot of deep popular anger against the political economy in which they find themselves, in which a very small group of people are basically raking off the wealth," he said.
There's just one problem with this analysis -- if political economy is the crucial factor, why aren't non-Muslim groups mired in poverty also reacting with similar levels of violence? Maybe because Al-Shabab -- like Islamist groups generally -- is motivated by enmity toward non-Muslims, as reported by Memri (Special Dispatch No. 5458, September 26, 2013), which quotes them:
xi) Our enmity towards Hindus is not due to the Kashmir issue; our enmity towards America is not due to Iraq and Afghanistan; the enmity between us and the Jews is not due to the Palestine; the real cause is that they do not accept our system and Islam.

xii) Our enmity towards them (the non-believers) will continue even if they renounce all their crimes.

xiii) Enmity towards infidels is a must. It is part of our faith. Islam says the Muslims should stay away from the infidels and their countries.

xiv) The best way to get rid of them (infidels) is to continue jihad until the Allah's faith (Islam) is completely enforced all over the world.
Religiously inspired enmity, not poverty, is the factor, but since the issue of economics has been raised, how do -- for instance -- Christians correlate to economic factors? Not only do they not turn to violence, they apparently respond in constructive ways, as implied in a report by Kate Tracy, "As Christians Rise or Fall, So Do 100 Country Credit Ratings" (Christianity Today, September 25, 2013), citing the work of Dutch researcher Dick Slikker:
"Changes in the percentage of Christians within a society exert a measurable correlated influence of the economic well-being of that society."

"When using total Christian populations per country, statistically significant positive linear correlations were obtained in seven out of eight combinations of data source, rating agency and either five- or ten-year interval." Slikker notes in his abstract.

Furthermore, within the three subsets of Christianity studied -- Protestants, Catholics, and evangelicals -- it was evangelicals that proved to have the highest rate of correlation with economic wellbeing.
Christianity thus seems to be good for the economy of a country. One implication could be that poor Christians work rather than fight. So much for the poverty-breeds-violence thesis. How might one explain the violence of such groups as Al-Shabab, Al-Qaida, etc.? I suggest that we look closely at the religious belief systems themselves if we really want to understand the violent actions of religious groups.

Labels: ,


At 12:14 AM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

I don't know if you've seen this (NSFW--drug use), but it seems a certain religion in Afghanistan is both profiting from the cultivation of opium while getting rid of infidels at the same time. Sadly, the Russian government must find it cheaper not to educate the poor and is just letting them become addicted to the absolutely worst illicit pleasure drug on the planet (not like the U.S. government is much better) which is followed by a truly horrible death. And now, according to the L.A. Times, two cases have recently surfaced in the U.S.

At 4:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the link, though I quickly realized it's too harrowing for me to watch.

I've known about the drug problem and also about the fatwas from Islamist leaders approving of the whole thing - though this tends to backfire on them, with drug use plaguing Afghanistan, too.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed a few things about the study:

It is a working paper that had not been peer-reviewed.

The complete data is unavailable. The only country-specific data provided on religion and the economy is Table 8, a cherry-picked chart including Greece, Italy, and Iceland, three countries that fell hard during the global recession several years ago. The only non-Western country is global growth engine China. The chart's mixing data from 5-year and 10-year intervals is also problematic.

The correlation with credit ratings is odd since those numbers reflect government management of the economy more than worker productivity.

This working paper's published data and conclusions remind me of the famous Ancel Keys Seven Countries study, which launched a war on saturated fats in the US. Among the seven countries detailed in the study, there was indeed a strong correlation between saturated fat consumption and heart disease risk. Keys, however, had access to data on 43 countries, and had he included all of them, the correlation would have disappeared, hence the misnamed French paradox, which was no paradox at all. I cite this example to show how respected scientists can get away with cherry-picking to prove their theory. If Table 8 is expanded into a complete data chart, please let us know.

Skepticism is good. So are butter and lard.


At 2:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the closer look. I linked to the abstract because I'd recently been alerted to it, and it fit with other things I've read over the years, going all the way back to my first reading of the Weber thesis.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked up Weber's seminal work and found his theory on contribution of the Protestant work ethic to economic development to be plausible yet incomplete. The Western economic titans that rose to global power in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries were populated mostly by Christians, with Protestant-majority Britain surpassing the Catholic countries of the Mediterranean. The Protestant work ethnic no doubt helped. So did colonial exploitation. The three ships that sailed to Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the US, brought a mixed group of businessmen and indentured servants. The businessmen did not know how to farm and did not care to learn, preferring to steal food from other Jamestown residents or their Powhatan neighbors, prompting the latter to blockade the English fort. An English supply ship rescued the survivors from starvation. A few years later, a passing Portuguese ship brought the first African slaves, who were put to work growing tobacco to export back to Britain. And the rest is history.

Accounting for variables seems to be much more difficult in the social sciences than the hard sciences.


At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I located three links to color-coded graphs and maps ranking countries by lack of religiosity, current Standard and Poors ratings, and growth in followers of Christianity. I think credit ratings alone are very weak economic data, but I am including the link because that is the only data used in the working paper. Browsing the graphs, I do not see any apparent correlation between adherence to Christianity and economic prosperity as defined by credit ratings. I do notice the countries with stellar AAA ratings have large numbers of agnostics and atheists whose ancestors were Christian, mostly Protestant. Residents of those countries enjoy a high quality of life thanks to economies that temper capitalism with socialism. Perhaps it could be said that Christianity facilitated the growth of global capitalism, which in turn, generated its own prosperity ethos that drives growth.

top 20 countries growth Christianity

countries ranked least to most religious


At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first link was botched and one link missing, so I'll try again:

color-coded map Standard and Poors ratings

top 20 countries growth Christians

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for doing all this work, Sonagi -- you should have been a social scientist!

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Formatting the links took more time than finding them.


At 4:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, I only now had a chance to follow up one of your links.

I'm interested to see that in Saudi Arabia, Christianity has an average annual growth rate of 9.27%. But I also see that the country was only 0.3% Christian in 1970 and will be only 4.6% Christian in 2020. Starting from so low, no wonder the growth rate is nearly 10%!

These Christians are foreign workers, of course, and have no right to worship, nor do they have any influence.

Real Christian growth would have to be among Saudis, and I'd bet that's close to zero.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home