Friday, 20 November 2015

"In the post-Paris blame game, let’s remember Muslims are victims too". 20 November

Letter to South China Morning Post:

Yonden Lhatoo is surely correct to find it troubling that "some lives are considered more valuable than others" (In the post-Paris blame game, let's remember Muslims are victims too, 20 November).

More troubling though, is Mr Lhatoo's characterisation of the Paris killers. They have "twisted ideologies and demented notions of religion".  They are motivated by "resentment among downtrodden and alienated Muslim communities".

What is it Mr Lhatoo, ideology or grievance?  Well, let's take them one by one:

"Twisted ideologies"?  This is nonsense, because it is clearly wrong on the evidence, such as IS's multi-lingual publication, Dabiq, which explains their aims and motivations.  Dabiq is replete with Islamic doctrine, from the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the life of Muhammad.   The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad.  Sheikh Mohamad al-Arefe, the Saudi cleric, tweets to his 12 million followers (twice those of Pope Francis), which sound like a clarion call to the votaries of IS.  Why should we accept Mr Lhatoo's assertion that these Islamic scholars are "twisting" the religion?  What evidence can Lhatoo provide for that assertion?

"Resentment and alienation"?  The leader of the Paris murderers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, went to an elite school in Belgium.  Like the London 7/7 bombers, the Paris murderers were middle-class people with middle-class jobs.  They were not "downtrodden" and "alienated".  Any resentment of society was of their own making.  Not shared, we should note, by other minorities such as the Sikh, HIndu, Jainish, Buddhist, or, even, we poor downtrodden atheists.

Remember that the killers said they murdered their fellow Parisians as punishment for their "decadent" and "disgusting" culture. They hated the freedoms that we value in the west. No mention of their having been "downtrodden", or "alienated".  

The reason they hated western culture lies in the core of Islamic doctrine, the hatred "infidels", which many (Muslims, ex-Muslims and non Muslims) say is the fundamental message of the Koran.   The concept of martyrdom and sanctity of armed jihad in pursuit of the battle with infidels are about as controversial within Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is in Christianity.  These doctrines need reform. 

As long as Mr Lhattoo and fellow travellers continue to deny the doctrinal evidence for this violence, the west will continue to fail to stop it, because the needed reform can't happen.

The human rights activist and ex-Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali tweeted on Nov 14: "As long as Muslims say IS has nothing to do with Islam or talk of Islamophobia they are not ready to reform their faith."   She said:  "Reform Islam to save it from extremists".  Reform requires facing the facts.  It doesn't help to say that IS has nothing to do with Islam, that they are simply "twisting" an ideology, because they are "downtrodden" and "alienated".  

Mr Lhatoo concludes: "a life is a life". If only that were true.  Should we accept that the life of Abdelhamid Abaaoud was as valuable as any single one of the 129 innocents he killed? Well, I don't.

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
9308 0799