Category Archives: Islam

The infidels will not be silenced – UnHerd

Source: The infidels will not be silenced – UnHerd

Thirty-three years ago, when I was a teenager in Nairobi, I was a book burner. The year was 1989, the year of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and I was seduced by the rising tide of Islamism. I greeted the fatwa with glee.

I rarely burnt actual books: we were too poor to afford a copy of The Satanic Verses. Instead, we wrote the title of the offending novel and the name of its author on cardboard and paper and set them alight. It was comical and pathetic. But we were deadly serious. We thought Ayatollah Khomeini was standing up for Islam against the infidels, bringing down the righteous fury of Allah upon a vile apostate. Had Rushdie been attacked then, I would have celebrated.

In the decades since, I have been a refugee, an atheist and a convert to the highest ideals and values of the West: free speech, freedom of conscience, the emancipation of women, and a free press. When I fled from a forced marriage and made a life in Europe, I was bewitched by the culture of freedom. But I still remember with a shudder my time as a pious believer on the verge of fanaticism. I know all too well how righteousness in the name of Islam motivates those who inflict violence on supposed infidels.

I have always viewed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie as a strange conflict between two very different figures. On the one hand, a novelist, raised in what was once secular Bombay and living in the England of Monty Python’s Life of Brian; a man in love with literature and language, who spent many years on a quest to become a published writer. Salman is an intellectual, a lover of stories, and a teller of tales. When he wrote The Satanic Verses, he was more interested in the theme of migration than in satirising Islam. He was certainly not apolitical, but he resided in the world of books and the imagination, engaging with the real world through fantasy. He did not set out to offend Muslims but simply assumed that supposedly holy events and texts were fair game for artists to play with, just as Western writers engaged freely, both positively and negatively, with Christianity.

And then there was the Ayatollah, a fundamentalist figure who had spent long years of exile in the West before returning to Iran to overthrow the despotic regime of the Shah in 1979. Whenever I read about Khomeini, I get the impression that he fancied himself a successor to the Prophet. He was both deeply arrogant and fanatically fundamentalist: a very dangerous combination. He was also a writer, though his subject matter was the Qur’an and Islamic law. Not for him the freely roaming imagination; his interest in literature was constrained by Islam.

While Salman sought to capture the entire world in his novels, Khomeini couldn’t escape religion. Almost prophetically, Salman included a Khomeini-like figure in The Satanic Verses. A character called only the Imam, he is also an exile seeking to return to his homeland to overthrow a despot and install his own tyranny. Like Khomeini, the Imam wants to turn back time:

“History the intoxicant, the creation and possession of the Devil, of the great Shaitan, the greatest of the lies — progress, science, rights — against which the Imam has set his face. History is a deviation from the Path, knowledge is a delusion, because the sum of knowledge was complete on the day Al-Lah finished his revelation to Mahound [the Muhammad figure in the novel].”

And like Khomeini, the Imam succeeds in his quest and devours the very people who saw him as a messiah against the despot. In this, Salman understood so deeply the nature of the Iranian regime when so many then and now fail to grasp its fanatical, unbending nature. The Western response to the fatwa, as to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, was to negotiate. Then, as now, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the regime. The world of the West and the world of Islamism are totally irreconcilable. The sooner we realise that nothing will appease the fanatics of Tehran, the better able we will be to oppose them.

Just look at the wording of the fatwa itself: “I call on all valiant Muslims wherever they may be in the world to kill them without delay, so that no one will dare insult the sacred beliefs of Muslims henceforth. Whoever is killed in this cause will be a martyr.” This is the language of honour and of sensitivity. Salman has blasphemed — he has insulted the honour of our precious beliefs — and so he, and many others, must die.

The fatwa is timeless. It won’t die with Khomeini. It is eternal. This is why, when it comes to fighting Islamism, the Western tools of diplomacy and reason are useless. We are faced with an enemy that never gives up, who thinks in terms of centuries rather than months or years, and who will wait patiently for an opportunity to strike. Only by understanding these different conceptions of civilisation can we begin to undo the damage wrought by the Iranian regime and other Islamists across the world.

It is unfashionable these days to defend Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilisations” thesis. But the attack on Salman shows the truth in it. Yes, there really are different ideas of civilisation — and yes, they are in conflict with each other. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we can recover our belief in Western civilisation, and stand up for it unflinchingly against its enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Salman would not, I imagine, phrase it in such a way, nor would he place such an emphasis on the Westernness of these values. But he is nevertheless an exemplar of them; a champion of free speech, bravely standing up for Western ideals when so many shy away from the fight. If only more people could follow his example, instead of taking the path of appeasement in the name of cultural sensitivity, the long years of murder and mayhem wrought by the Islamists on the West might come to an end.

I have lived those long years; I know all too well the threat Islamism poses. After I came out as an apostate, I was forced into a bubble of protection that still surrounds me to this day. I have 24-hour security. I still receive death threats. My friend, the sweet, vulgar, brilliant Theo Van Gogh was murdered simply for making a film with me. His attacker used a knife to stab a letter into Theo’s chest: it said that I would be next.

When I heard the news about Salman last week, I couldn’t speak. I was horrified, but I was also scared. If they could get him on American soil, would I be next? Although I choose to live with security and Salman didn’t, the attack showed how patient and ruthless the enemy is. I am writing this four days after the attack, and have slept for as many hours. Will I ever be free? Will I ever feel safe? Will my children ever feel safe?

More from this author

There is no “Biden Doctrine”

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

But this isn’t my story: it is the story of Salman Rushdie and everyone he stands for, of all the people in the Muslim world and the West who dare to challenge sacred dogmas and find themselves threatened and even murdered for doing so. For them, for us, giving into fear is never an option. As Salman wrote after 9/11: “How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorised. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.”

And yet last Friday, I was scared. I felt terrorised. I was urged to go into hiding and stay silent for my own safety. For a few hours, I let fear rule my life. But still I knew deep down that freedom is a choice — and that I would keep choosing to be free, to speak and write as I please. In this way, in writing this very piece, I defy the Islamists and all others who would silence me.

Like Salman, I will continue to speak. Like Salman, I choose freedom.


How will Muslim Nominee Protect Other Faiths?

Christianity Daily  11/21/2021

A Colorado-based group promoting religious freedom asked President Joe Biden’s Muslim nominee, Rashad Hussain, how will he and the administration protect other faiths and their rights.

WND said JihadWatch, through its director Robert Spencer, highlighted the 7-page open letter sent by Save The Persecuted Christians Coalition to Hussain questionimg his capacity to be truthful to his role as an “Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom” even to other religions, especially those being persecuted by Muslims.

The coalition is comprised of 124 American Christians and Jews that aims “to engage public officials and spread news of persecution” at the grassroots.

“He is, by all accounts, a devout Muslim. As Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, will he speak out and act for the religious freedom of non-Muslims in Shariah states who are discriminated against according to Shariah provisions? The establishment media will never ask him. So Save the Persecuted Christians has done so,” Spencer said.

The open letter pointed out some unaddressed areas on Hussain’s nomination to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. The coalition raised the said areas out of its desire that clarity be made on the matter prior to Hussain receiving the United States Senate’s vote on his nomination.

Save The Persecuted Christians’ letter pointed out that one of the areas that were not addressed was Hussain’s beliefs on “certain tenets of Islamic Law.” One of the said tenets pertain to Islam having a “supremacist position” over other religions. This tenet compels Muslims adherance to the treatment of “infidels” or those who are non-Muslims as “inferior” to them such that they have limited rights and are subject to “severe punishment.”

Another tenet involves considering converts as “apostates” subject to death penalty. While another considers Muslims with a different interpretation of Islam as “apostates” who are similarly subjected to the same punishment as converts.

“As a committed Muslim, in the execution of your office as AAL, will you be able to consider members of all faiths or of no faith equally worthy of U.S. protection from persecution by state and non-state actors?” Save The Persecuted Christians said.

“In light of differences in the understanding of personal rights and freedoms under Sharia rules versus those protected under international laws concerning human rights and religious freedom, what standard would you advocate for when issues arise affecting the freedom of non-Muslims to practice their faith–especially in Muslim-majority nations–if confirmed as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom?” they added.

The letter also sought clarity in 17 other areas on Hussein’s history, ideologies, and statements, such as using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as his guide in implementing his role. The coalition said that this differs significantly” from the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights that was used by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to which Hussein was appointed to by former President Barack Obama as a Special Envoy.

The difference lies in the “legal and practical implications of its caveat that all human rights are to be observed only to the extent they are consistent with Sharia,” which is the Arabic name for the Islamic Law.

The coalition particularly cited that as OIC Special Envoy, Hussein was one of those who promoted a false narrative that a jihadist attack in Benghazi was “spontaneous” instead of it being “murderous and pre-planned.” The said attack actually led to the death of a U.S. Ambassador to Lydia among others. The coalition asked Hussein if he still holds the same position today.

The group also cited several instances that Hussein acted against justice by defending Muslims even though it was not the truth such as silencing those who spoke against persecution done by Islamic groups as “Islamophobic” during his stint as OIC Special Envoy.


Why Afghan women are fighting back – UnHerd

UnHerd by Ayaan Hirsi Ali  9/11/2021

I was a defiant little girl. One afternoon, I came home with my nails painted — a grave sin. My mother took one look and told me to get the filth off of my nails before she chopped off each finger.

My mother could be fierce and she punished me frequently, but even then I knew that her threat was bluster. She might smack me, but she wasn’t going to take off any digits.

Empty threats are used as leverage to entice certain behaviour. But what if the threats are real? For the girls living under Taliban control in Afghanistan, threats are not theatre: they are promises. Even for transgressions as small as painting their fingernails, they face real consequences.

Saturday marks 20 years since the fall of the World Trade Center, a day that brought unimaginable devastation, heartbreak and loss to America. But if there was one glimmer of hope that came from that tragic moment, it was for the women and girls of Afghanistan. After 9/11, and the conflict that followed, a level of freedom unknown to previous generations came to their country.

I remember watching the planes crash on television. I was at work in the Netherlands at the time, and sat, horrified, with my colleagues. As we watched, we wondered how the world’s superpower would respond to such an evil attack on the American homeland. They certainly had the power, resources and reason to go and obliterate their newfound enemy. Sitting there, we could never have guessed that this tragedy would end up bringing more rights and freedoms to women in Afghanistan.

The United States could have gone into Afghanistan, taken its revenge and left. President Biden’s continual defence over the past weeks has been that he was following the original plan. “We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001, and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again.”

But this is not where the legacy of 9/11 ends. It was not all necessary revenge and retaliation. Instead, we offered to help rebuild and provide hope to those who had not had it before. Together with our Afghan allies, we built a more inclusive society for women and girls, in the belief that precisely this kind of modernisation would reduce the danger of a Taliban restoration.

As Adam Tooze explains in his brilliant Substack, from 2003 to 2018, the number of women enrolled in university rose from 7,200 to 49,000. Female life expectancy increased by almost 10 years from 2001-2019. “Whereas in 2000,” Tooze explains, “Afghan men lived longer than women, now Afghanistan has the normal pattern of women outliving their menfolk.” Rates of literacy among females more than doubled between 2000-2018.

A generation of girls was raised without knowing life under Taliban control. And they soared. In 2017, an all-girls robotics team was founded, known as the Afghan Dreamers, who went on to win the Entrepreneurial Challenge at the Robotex festival in Estonia. In 2008, Afghanistan saw its first female mayor, Azra Jafari, in the town of Nili. And she was just the first of many females to hold political positions, including Salima Mazari, Zarifa Ghanfari, and Fawzia Koofi. Women made up 40% of the most recent class of graduates from the American University of Afghanistan. They have their own all-female orchestra. Female entrepreneurs invested $77 million over 18 years, resulting in 77,000 jobs. Their rights were promoted by the 2004 Afghanistan Constitution in Article 44, stating that “the state shall devise and implement effective programs to create and foster balanced education for women”.

Their successes were awe-inspiring. They were also a source of pride for Americans. They were, in part, America’s girls — girls raised to know a certain level of freedom, with their rights secure and protected, thanks to the U.S.-led intervention prompted by 9/11.

In 2002, the United Nations Development Programme produced the Arab Human Development Report, aimed at providing a path for growth and opportunity in the Arab world. The report concluded that three factors contribute to the constraints of human development in the Arab world: “freedom, empowerment of women, and knowledge”. Individuals needed to be educated beyond religious ideology, their human rights respected and women’s rights expanded. And for the last 20 years, the United States has supported women and these goals through the US Agency for International Development and State Department-funded programmes, as well as encouraging women’s participation in government and the private sector.

But now women’s rights are being ripped away. Biden’s betrayal reverberates sharply across the country. He offered a false dichotomy to the American people: either pull all troops out or go back to fighting an “endless war”. Pulling out the remaining US troops initiated the swift collapse of the Afghan government, will result in Afghanistan returning to a terrorist safe haven and removed the shield protecting women’s rights in the country. Surely this is not the legacy that Americans want to leave behind on the 20th anniversary of 9/11?

The effects of Taliban control are already being felt by women. The Taliban have announced that women must cover their faces to attend university and genders must segregate, both in class and while entering and exiting the building. They are banned from sports, considered by the Taliban’s cultural commission as “neither appropriate nor necessary” for women. Women can no longer hold ministerial positions. There are no women included in the new administration. Some are being told not to go to work, allegedly a temporary change while the Taliban draw up new “women related procedures”. They face real violence if they disobey. Those speaking out against the Taliban are being deemed “agents of America” and accused of “not being true Muslims”. They are being erased from the public square. And the Taliban haven’t been in control for a full month yet.

What will happen to America’s Afghan girls? The ones born and raised since 2001. The girls inspired by the allure of freedom, liberalism, and chasing their own dreams. Those who have, until now, not known the crushing burdens and barriers of life under the Taliban. What will become of the defiant girls, who speak up for their rights? The ones who question the religious fundamentalism of the Taliban?

Many will suffer severe punishments. Violence will be unleashed against them in a magnitude that those in the West do not comprehend. Body parts will be chopped off. Sexual harassment, rapes, honour violence and murders will become the norm.

But, unlike before, this time is different. The women of Afghanistan will fight back. They’ve already begun. Protests are erupting across the country. Women of all ages are standing firm against the Taliban. In Kabul, women attempted to march to the presidential palace, “demanding the right to work and to be included in government”. They were attacked for it, with videos and photos revealing the bloody violence they faced at the hands of the Taliban. At a subsequent protest in Kabul, one woman stated: “We don’t care if they beat us or even shoot us. We want to defend our rights. We will continue our protests even if we get killed.”

At another protest in Herat, calling for girls’ education, one of the organisers, Basira Taheri, explained: “The women of this land are informed and educated. We are not afraid, we are united.” Pashtana Durrani, the Executive Director of Learn Afghanistan, a bulwark for Afghan women’s rights, said; “We are going to make sure [girls] get to go to school, they get to go to work. If not on the terms that we want in public, we’re going to make it happen anyways.”

As the saying, often attributed to Thomas Carlyle, goes: “Once the mind has been expanded by a big idea, it will never go back to its original state.” The Taliban cannot undo the last 20 years. These women and girls are refusing to submit to a new Dark Age. That glimmer of hope, sparked after 9/11, has not been extinguished. Even with the Taliban in control, America’s girls aren’t going to give up.

And now the world is watching. Before 9/11, the atrocities committed by the Taliban on the women of Afghanistan received very little coverage in the West. Now, everyone knows names like Malala and Bibi Aisha. And we will come to know more names, like Basira Taheri’s, as we cheer them on. Two decades on, these women may be the most enduring achievement of the American intervention that followed 9/11.

They are defiant. And, as a former defiant girl, I can say with conviction that they can’t beat or cut that defiance out of you.[0]=18743&tl_period_type=3&mc_cid=78f7b10c38&mc_eid=0ff3e7ea29


‘Nobody can hurt me’ | WORLD News Group

Well, President Trump? How big are your cajones?

On the night before her final hearing before Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Asia Bibi had a dream. “I saw in a dream that all the doors of the prison are open,” she described, “and I’m worrying that if the jail superintendent comes she will be very furious.”

Hope can burn from the faintest wick. For Bibi the dream was a fresh fire. A field worker who does not read and a mother of five, Bibi is in her late 40s or early 50s and has been jailed since 2009. From a dispute with two Muslim women, who alleged she blasphemed Islam after one asked Bibi to bring her water, she has been on death row.

Her children, including one who is mentally handicapped, have grown up without her. Pakistan has had four prime ministers while Bibi has been behind bars. And multiple courts upheld a death-by-hanging sentence in her case, which has been pending before Pakistan’s Supreme Court since July 2015.

But on the eve of an expected ruling in October, she told her attorney, Saiful Malook, “From my dream I am very, very certain that my appeal is going to be accepted and I am going to be free.” Then she said, “I have such a full faith in God that I have [a] strong feeling that nobody can hurt me.”

To Malook, Bibi said, “I assure you, sir, you also don’t worry.”

The following day the Supreme Court ruled in her favor, saying she had been accused falsely and ordering her freed, but her ordeal was far from over. Islamic hard-liners sparked widespread protests, shutting down roads and services. Bibi was not guilty, but not free, and clearly needed to leave the country. On Nov. 7 authorities reportedly flew Bibi from the detention center in Punjab to Islamabad, where she remained in an undisclosed location. The government caved to the hard-liners, agreeing to review the Supreme Court’s decision for technical issues.

Malook told the story of Bibi’s dream at a church in the Netherlands, where he was forced to seek temporary shelter after threats against his own life. For offering to shelter him, the Netherlands faces threats too: On Nov. 13 Dutch officials had to close their embassy in Islamabad and withdraw staff over threats against Dutch diplomats.

The case already has become a watershed moment for Pakistan and the Muslim world, something like the 1979 Revolution in Iran. Hard-liners threaten Christians using the blasphemy laws, while their tactics threaten Pakistan’s democratic government. Two leading statesmen—Muslim Salman Taseer and Christian Shahbaz Bhatti—were assassinated in 2011 for defending Bibi.

The only thing more astonishing than the bravery and faith of Asia Bibi in the face of so much hatred and violence is the cowardice and retreat of nations more powerful than Pakistan. The United Kingdom granted shelter to those calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie and has allowed rallies parading the Hezbollah flag, but British leaders stayed silent on Bibi’s future.

The United States took in the very publicly threatened Russian Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Chinese democracy movement leader Wei Jingsheng, yet made no offer of asylum for Bibi. Privately U.S. officials say the situation is too sensitive to talk about, but while they remain silent the hard-liners are winning.

Besides wanting to kill Asia Bibi, Pakistan’s Islamist parties and their mullahs want to silence Western powers through fear and intimidation. They want to threaten violence in such a way that they get their way. Until Bibi is fully freed, they have made a sham of Pakistan’s rule of law and its court system. Unless the traditional protectors of freedom step forward in a public and profound way to offer safe passage, it will appear the greatest powers in the world can be lassoed by a jihadist-ruled street.

Weeks after a brave verdict, few are looking brave beside the farm worker and mother, Asia Bibi herself. Attorney Malook told the Dutch congregation: “I have not seen such a strong woman in my life, nor in any book story, who is behind the bars for more than nine years … and still can be so strong.”