Individual Muslims — they are what they are. They don’t want to take part in it. But they — you know, I have family who don’t want to talk about jihad; never, ever talk about it. They want to remain — they identify themselves as Muslim. But they eat pork, they have dogs — which are considered filthy in Islam. They’re — I call them post-Islamic Muslims, you know. They’re not Muslim in any serious way. But they sure as hell don’t want to say anything against jihad, which is troubling. Because they give a good face to an evil ideology.
And that’s a real problem. Because people keep saying — well, I know a good Muslim. He’s, you know, a nice guy. But he doesn’t personify the religion. You know, and if he does — if he’s pro-Israel, he sure as hell doesn’t, you know, personify the religion. And you know, my thinking is, in general, your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad, morally superior to Islam itself. It’s the consistent practitioners who are the problem.
Then you got individuals like Irshad Manji, who wants Islam to return to its fun — clever, fun-loving roots.
She’s another non-Muslim Muslim. And Zuhdi Jasser — while he may be a good individual amongst us, according to Islam, he’s bad. Because he’s like — he might as well be an apostate. You know, you can’t be against Sharia, against jihad, and be for Islam. In a literal sense, you really can’t. So his Islam, in a lot of ways, I call Zuhdi Jasser-ism.
You know, it’s a subjective, individualist view of Islam. And it gets in the way of us seeing the actual threat for what it is and what it promotes.
And then, you know, the political agenda furthering the myth of “moderate Islam” is good only insofar as it furthers our interests. We cannot sacrifice the truth or refrain from fighting the war we need to fight in the proper way. I see no widespread moderate movement, and I don’t want to help create one at our expense.
Baroness Caroline Cox: Well, good afternoon.
And I stand before you this afternoon as someone who has no illusions whatever about the threats of contemporary Islamism, political Islam and strategic Islam to our liberal democracies. And I’m deeply concerned about the way in which political Islam is using the freedoms of democracy to destroy democracy itself and the freedoms it enshrines.
My own engagement with Islam began actually further afield, when I confronted military Islam firsthand, face to face, in the warzones of Southern Indonesia, in the Malukas and Sulawesi. And Laskar Jihad was there. And many hundreds were being killed and thousands displaced [in] Ambon. And 5,000 Laskar Jihad warriors [were in] Ambon alone and saw the killings.
I’ve been in Sudan and Southern Sudan many times, over 30 times, in the war against the South, when Khartoum was perpetrating its jihad against the peoples of the South. And I went 30 times to areas designated as no-go areas to international aid organizations. Because they didn’t want to aid victims or anyone to tell the world what it was doing. So I went to those places 30 times. They do not love me. They give me a prison sentence for illegal entry. So thank you for being inclusive and having a convict with you this afternoon.
Northern Nigeria — we’re currently working in Northern Nigeria. Many killings already this year in Northern Nigeria.
And as far as the UK is concerned, at the moment we are confronting very real strategies by political Islam, as I said, to use the freedoms of democracy to destroy that democracy. And I discern nine kinds of strategies being used by political Islam around the world today, including in Britain. And I’ll be saying a little bit about this tonight and much more tomorrow afternoon.
But those strategies include the political strategies; legal — we already have Sharia law in United Kingdom — financial — Sharia finance is extremely dangerous — demographic strategies, and cultural — massive investment in our cultural institutions to try and attain a culture of hegemony; and abroad, military jihad, and the humanitarian — use of humanitarian aid.
So I’m not an optimist at all. Not naïve. When I look at the nature of Islam itself as a traditional religion, I would share your analyses earlier on. Yes, of course there are the verses of the sword, but there are — I mean, there are versus of peace. They sound so irenic, and we could all love to think that they were the real motivating force of international Islam.
The verses of the sword are there. And what is very worrying is the principle of abrogation — that because the verses of the sword are inconsistent with the verses of peace, and Allah cannot be inconsistent, the traditional Islamic scholars developed the principle of abrogation, whereby the later revelations of the Prophet abrogated the earlier revelations. And unfortunately for all of us, the later revelations were the verses of the sword. So Islam is not inherently a religion of peace.
Similarly, amongst the teachings of Islam, the world is only divided into two — the dar al-harb or the dar al-Islam. The world of Islam — we’re already living under Islam — or the world of war. There’s no alternative. So if you’re not living in an Islamic nation, you’re living in a world of war. And of course, you have an obligation to do what you can to try to achieve that for Islam. And that, as we already heard, is perfect legit to use deception [or to kill], as any of us might in a war situation. So I’m not an optimist at all, as will be coming up very clearly in my later presentations.
But what may we perhaps do in this context? First of all, I would say to all of us — we must know our Islam. Do our homework. (Inaudible) in Britain, there are often very well-meaning interfaith dialogues. And the Christians come. The Christians spend the whole time apologizing for all the dreadful things we did in the Crusades, and everything else. I mean, I say the Crusades were nothing to apologize about — they were the response to 400 years of Islamic aggression. But we’ve got a great guilt complex about the Crusades, so we spend our time apologizing, and our Muslim friends agree, so it’s all very peaceful. And that’s many of our interfaith dialogues.
But also, I think we must — and I’ll be saying more about this later — begin to draw very clear lines in the sand, to say enough is enough, to protect our democratic freedoms and our precious heritage — our freedom, for which many have died. And among the ways of doing that — in Britain at the moment, I am introducing a private members bill in the House of Lords to try to address the question of Sharia law. We already have over 60 Sharia courts in UK. And of course, they have fundamental discrimination against women, so they violate all our purported commitments to gender equality in United Kingdom. And women are really suffering in Britain — Muslim women are really suffering.
So that is my black and bleak scenario. But I do search for some signs, possibly, of hope. And this is where I may diverge from one or two of the other speakers.
Going back to Indonesia — when I was down in Indonesia at the height of the Laskar Jihad’s assaults on the communities there, the traditional Muslim leaders did not want that jihad. Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, does have an honorable tradition of religious tolerance. It’s written into their [pandrocina], their constitution.
And Christians and Hindus and others have been allowed to live peaceably in those areas where they have chosen to live for a very long time. And there were foreign elements that came in from Middle East and Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Laskar Jihad. But after awhile, the traditional Muslim leaders wanted to normalize relations with the predominantly Christian communities. And they were brave people. Because Laskar Jihad didn’t want peace.
And I remember talking to Mr. [Elvi], one of the Muslim leaders from Ambon. And he said to me — you know, if I go to the next interfaith meeting and I get killed, my daughter said to me — daddy, I will be very proud of you. There was a brave Muslim, who was trying to go against violent Islamist jihad. That’s an individual — and individuals, from a slightly larger, national level — who was enabled to hope to establish an organization with an endless title. It’s called the International Islamic Christian Organisation for Reconciliation and Reconstruction. [To most, it] abbreviates to IICORR.
But at the launch, the former and our late president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, was present. He was our president, and he was promoting this. And in his speech, he said something which again is perhaps something which we can put as a ray of hope on the horizon. And I’m now paraphrasing, using a terminology he would not use, because it’s a Christian terminology. But basically, he was saying Islam is at a crossroads; Islam has to have its reformation. And basically, Islam has to learn how to do away with that principle of abrogation, whereby the verses of the sword override the verses of peace.
And that was a very successful initiative. The British government did fund an interfaith delegation to come to the UK to work out principles of reconciliation and reconstruction away from the conflict zone. When they went back, they were able to contain renewed incipient conflict very quickly because of the good relations established. And there has been peace in Ambon since then. I met an Indonesian politician just a few months ago who said that was a successful initiative.
Now, I have no illusions — Laskar Jihad have gone on elsewhere. And so we are tiny, tiny, possible beginnings of rays of hope. I don’t put it much more strongly than that, but that was a successful initiative.
Secondly, I was preaching — or speaking, rather, at an interfaith conference in Paris for the Abrahamic Faiths two or three years ago. And before me, all the speakers were just so cheerful. It was like pink candy frost, all the lovely and good, and nothing to be too skeptical about. Interfaith dialogues and initiatives that were going on everywhere. There wasn’t a hint of the kind of problems that bring us here together today.
Well, I just felt only the truth could make us free. So I stood up and gave a rather tougher talk about what I’ve been talking about — the principle of abrogation, about the nature of Sharia, about the nature of military jihad, about the sort of things that are challenging us, about Islamism and traditional Islamic theology. And I came off shaking at the knees. Because I had been saying the unspeakable things.
There was a Jordanian priest there who, just as I got off the platform, said — thank you for saying all the things I couldn’t say. But there were 12 ladies with hijabs from Iraq, Muslim ladies from Iraq. I went up there, and I said — ladies, I do hope I haven’t offended you in what I’ve been saying today about Islam. They said — no. Thank goodness you were here, we praise God you were here. You’re the only one who spoke with any sense. We were so fed up with all the stuff that went before, we were about to go home. You were the only one who said what needed to be said. And you’re the only one who had the courage to mention Sharia, and we hate Sharia.
Well, I got to know those Muslim ladies from Iraq very well. We had little group meetings. I became their very own baroness. And we were able to share at a very deep level. And there again were women, Muslim women, who were suffering very much under traditional Islam.
Thirdly, very briefly — in the UK, as I mentioned, I’m bringing in a bill to try to address the issue of Sharia law, Sharia courts in the UK, and particularly with regard to gender discrimination and women suffering in our country. And there are some brave Muslims who are supporting me in that bill.
There’s an organization called British Muslims for Secular Democracy. There’s a very brave young woman, Tehmina Kazi, who’s spoken out in public on this issue. And she’s had death threats. But she’s prepared to support this bill.
Also, if any of you are coming to the Olympic games, you might be relieved to know that as you come into London and into the Olympic arena, you will not be greeted by a mega-mosque which would’ve seated 70,000 people.
They reduced, very graciously, that concept of a 70,000-strong mosque to 12,000. Well, our largest cathedral takes three. So even that would’ve been a very strange [somewhere] to welcome everybody. But that initiative has been forestalled, but with the help of many Muslims. So I stand before you as someone who is deeply puzzled, and deeply humbled.
As I finish, I remember a phone call I received very recently from an Indonesian politician who’d read the book we had written on Islam — it’ll be available later on. And it’s hard-hitting, it’s the kind of thing I’ve been talking about this afternoon. But he said — since I read your book on Islam — he is a Muslim — it reopened for me the gates of [jihad]. I realized how as a Muslim I’d been brought up in a theological and mental prison. But now I’ve read your book; I see things differently.
Unless we are available to Muslims — a [message] you said earlier — we give some space for some of those who are courageous enough, and maybe risking death to do so — then I think we are perhaps losing a very important opportunity. Because I have no illusions they’ll be subject to intimidation. We have all the threats outlined at the beginning. They are the minority. But I think we must be open to those who might want to bring about — to use a Christian term, inappropriately — but an Islamic reformation. It won’t be in my lifetime. But if it’s possible, we must support it. If it isn’t, well, we will go on holding the line against those who would destroy our freedoms.
Karen Lugo: Just a very brief footnote — as I was involved in a protest — I emceed a protest against two radical imams in February of this last year. And CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, put out a hit video, a distorted video, of the protest to make it all look like hate speech. They did capture some video of some hecklers that were over by the entrance to this fundraiser.
And later, as this production was going around the Internet, one of our women, who was from Iran, said she had gone up to the louder hecklers with megaphones because she recognized the accent. And she said — where are you from? And the women said — we’re from Iran. And she said — well, then, are you Muslim? And they said — yes, but we just hate Sharia. So the head piece actually wound up being of some of those activists who were — and some of the things they were saying were the most virulently anti-Islam, but they were Muslims.
Also, in my work with the communities, and the citizens who become very involved in my area, we’ve spoken with a lot of secular Muslims who have come up to us. And we’ve had this conversation — you know, why don’t more Muslims stand up? And they’ve said, you know, look at what happened in Europe, with the fact that Europe has caved the way it has. And we don’t see more signs of courage in the United States yet than we do. You know, we’re waiting to see if you’re going to hold the line against the radical elements of Islam. So, you know, that is what the conversation has been.
So at this point, we would love to have some questions until they tell us that the room is no longer ours.
Unidentified Audience Member: So want to go back and look at the history of fascism in Europe in the ’30s, which I kind of relate to this. I’ve been watching this going on now for several years. And it took till Hitler and Mussolini were sure enough, and actually tried to take over the world against (inaudible). And [there was] a real struggle as to whether or not we were going to be able to defeat the fascists. And fortunately, we were.
I’m wondering if this is going to drag itself along until such time that there is a conflagration (inaudible) –
Robert Spencer: If only we had worked with the moderate Nazis, we could’ve forestalled all that.
Unidentified Audience Member: — that’s what they were doing, that [was genuine].
Andrew McCarthy: But the Nazis were radical Germans. I mean, it depends on what level you’re going to evaluate it.
Bosch Fawstin: Well, this is the question, then. See, obviously there’s a spectrum of belief, knowledge and fervor among Muslims. Nobody on this panel actually thinks that every Muslim is on with the program of warfare and subjugation, least of all me. And I’ve made this abundantly clear in everything that I’ve written. The fact is that there are probably a majority — there is a majority of Muslims who just want to live their lives and have a job, and raise their family. And they couldn’t care less what the imam is saying in the mosque.
But the doctrines of Islam are the source of this hatred. People have been wondering why they hate us for 10 years. And they hate us because they’re taught to hate us, not because of our foreign policy, not because of Israel, not because of Iraq or Afghanistan; but because Islam teaches that Muslims should hate and wage war against and subjugate non-Muslims. And these things are demonstrably in the Koran. Does that mean that every Muslim is doing it? Certainly not. But do we pretend that it doesn’t really teach these things in order to encourage the ones who aren’t with the program? I don’t see the utility of that.
Andrew McCarthy: Well, let me — if I may, though — what Robert has painted, I think, is a very black-and-white view. And I have no quarrel with the idea that this comes rooted from Islamic scripture. But the two alternatives — or, I guess I shouldn’t say there are two alternatives. It’s not like we have a choice of — either you acknowledge that the Koran teaches this and that the scriptures teach this, or you deny it. I mean, that’s just not reality. There are other ways to address it. If there aren’t, we’re really at the abyss, right?
But if you ask people — and I’m not contending that this is a majority view in the slightest — but they have come up with different interpretations, they have come up with ways, as they say, to try to contextualize the bad stuff, to try to limit it to its time and space, so that they can put more emphasis on the verses of the scripture that we see as having been abrogated by the verses of the sword. And as far as, you know, taqiyya is concerned, this whole thing about taqiyya — and I don’t deny taqiyya exists; it obviously does.
But you know, I remember, when I was a mafia prosecutor, they have a rule, too, you know — they call it omertà. And we used to get these mobsters in who wanted to cooperate with the government, and we’d get to interview them a little bit, you know. And they’d tell me about, you know, the secret code they had of omertà. And I remember sitting there and saying — all right, let me get this straight. You’re part of a secret criminal organization, and you have this rule that you don’t tell anybody anything. Wow, where do you guys come up with this stuff?
I kind of see taqiyya the same way. I mean, if you’re dealing with Islamists, if lying serves their purposes, obviously they’re going to lie. But the fact that there is a doctrine of lying doesn’t mean that everybody who has the opportunity to lie will do so. I mean, some of the people who say that they are trying to interpret their doctrine a different way actually authentically mean that they’re trying to interpret their doctrine a different way. They’re not trying to pull one over on you.
Baroness Caroline Cox: Sorry, can I just –
Karen Lugo: I want to allow Baroness Cox a second.
Baroness Caroline Cox: Okay. Maybe I could just try and answer your question, sir. I come from the land of Chamberlain. And we stood alone for awhile fighting Nazi Germany. And I would say to you, nothing I’ve said today suggests we should not adopt the strongest possible line. I don’t want to be a Chamberlain. That’s why I’m introducing a bill in the House of Lords to try and address this issue of the growth of political Islam in the United Kingdom. Suggest to you I’d like to see –
– I’d like to see some parliamentary or government initiatives in the United States. We can have wonderful conferences. We can talk, we can learn. That’s not going to change the situation. We’ve got to do things politically and strategically. And that’s why I’ve introduced the bill. But also, there must be (inaudible) more space if there are the other Muslims who want to support the defense of democracy, they’ve got a chance to do so, too.
Unidentified Audience Member: What I’m saying is I don’t think anything is going to happen until (inaudible).
Bosch Fawstin: Yeah, that’s probably true.
Unidentified Audience Member: (Inaudible — microphone inaccessible)
Karen Lugo: Okay, Amy?
Unidentified Audience Member: My concern is the motivation for the giving of space. So on one hand, you want to get, I guess, help from the Muslim community to achieve various ends. And one question is — how much help are you actually getting from them? Or [is the] concern to give them the opportunity to stand up for the right thing — which is nice, but it isn’t like you’re preventing them from standing up for the right thing. Sometimes giving them space in that regard could be a sacrifice for us. So I am concerned about that.
The other issue — (inaudible) –
Karen Lugo: I think –
Unidentified Audience Member: — are we going to be sacrificing by doing this, or are we furthering our interests by giving them space?
Karen Lugo: And it’s a very good question. And I think — just one second here — it’s a matter of developing some confidence and trust in us to do better than the Europeans have done in defending our culture and our freedom of speech, and all the rights, self-government, the things we hold so dear. I mean, do we have a deep enough belief in those things to defend them, and to also then recognize that there are Muslims who would aid us in that? Andy?
Andrew McCarthy: Since I’m the one who said give them space, let me try to be a little bit more concrete about what I meant. I meant give them rhetorical space, and understand that they have their own struggle that they’re trying to go through. I wasn’t suggesting that we take any other national security — I’m Attila the Hun on national security. I absolutely think that we have to have our eyes open about not only the people who want to destroy this country by violent jihadism, but the broader civilizational threat to the United States and to the West, which is profound.
My point is that we do have allies in that community. We don’t have as many as we would like to have — not by a long shot. But we have to have a way to separate who those allies are from the rest of the broader threat.
Now, Robert and I have talked about, you know, Islamists and whether that’s an appropriate label or not. But I think — and Robert can address this, but even Robert will use the term “supremacist Muslim,” or, you know, some other adjective. I think we all grope with this need that we all know that we have, to one degree or another, to say yes, there are people out there who are in that community, who are either our allies or our potential allies, and we’re not trying to drive them into the arms of the other side. But we have to come up with a way to acknowledge that.
Robert Spencer: The problem about giving them space is — all I’m saying here is that we can’t give them space by lying to them or lying to ourselves. That’s not any legitimate kind of space. And the whole Islamist idea — that a radical Islamist is the one who carries out terrorist attacks, and ordinary Muslims wouldn’t do that — the problem is there isn’t any distinction within the Muslim community. It isn’t as if there’s the radical Islamist mosque on one block and the moderate mosque on the next block, and there’s some sort of institutional distinction, like between Baptists and Methodists. They’re all mixed up together. How do you become an Islamist? You perform an act of terrorism.
When Andy and I had the exchange in National Review, right that day, there was a Bosnian who went to Sarajevo and shot up the US embassy. And all the stories about him said he was a radical Islamist who shot at the US embassy. Well, that was Friday. On Thursday, he was just an ordinary Muslim.
Andrew McCarthy: [Well] –
Robert Spencer: And he became a radical Islamist when he shot up the embassy. There wasn’t any indication otherwise, in his life, in his movements, in his associations, that would’ve given you the impression that he would ever had committed a terrorist act. And this just shows the uselessness of this distinction that is imposed from without and is not within the Muslim community.
I’d also like to add, in terms of giving them space, that while the perspective that I espouse may be the dominant view in this room — and for that I thank you all — it is a very, very small minority view that is routinely demonized, vilified and dismissed in the mainstream culture, as I’m sure you’re all well aware.
And the point that I’m making is that this is — we’ve been giving them space for 10 years. We’ve been pretending that Islam is a religion of peace. We’ve been encouraging — we’ve been assuming, on an official international policy level and in national policy, that Islam is a religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims — 99.99 percent — are on our side and completely loyal to Western civilizational principles of freedom.
And what has it gotten us? Where do we see large numbers of Muslims, large organizations of Muslims — even any sect, anything — that is fighting against this within Islam? There’s little groups here, little groups there. There’s Zuhdi, of course. And what else?
Andrew McCarthy: I do agree that if we’re going to start saying “radical Islamist,” then the term “Islamist” is useless. And I’m not recommending that. I thought “Islamist” was our liberation from having to say that Islam is the problem period, and move on.
You know, I think Islamists are people who want to impose Sharia on the West. They are people who want to live the mainstream interpretation of Islam that Robert talks about. They include violent jihadists who want to do it by means of terrorism. But if we’re going to start to parse, you know, radical Islamists from moderate Islamists, then I agree. I throw up my hands, and we’re talking nonsense. But I don’t think we’re at that point yet.
Karen Lugo: Do we have one last question? Okay.
Unidentified Audience Member: Seems so far that attempts at reforming Islam have not gotten any traction. I attended, for example, (inaudible) summit four years ago in St. Petersburg, Florida. Participants were either outright apostate, like (inaudible), or like (inaudible) considered apostates by most Muslims.
Question to the panel is — do you see in the future any hope that there will be a real reformation of Islam (inaudible) doctrine of abrogation, supremacy of the Hadith, and so forth? Or is the choice in perpetuity going to be either perpetual warfare between Islam and the infidels? Or eradicating Islam at the end of a war, as was done to national socialists at the end of World War II?
Bosch Fawstin: Well, Islam is not going to be eradicated. It’s much bigger than national socialism ever was. And I just wanted to say that — Andy just said a minute ago that if we say Islam is the problem, then that will discourage reformers. But Islam is the problem. The problem is within Islam. But does that mean that there can be no reform ever, or that Muslims cannot confront this and change it? No, it certainly doesn’t mean that. Anything is possible in history, and nobody could’ve predicted the Christian Reformation a few hundred years before it happened.
It’s historically theoretically possible. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the size of the groups that might affect it in our age. They are minuscule. And they are not traditional and have no basis within Islamic theology or law to stand on. They have their own private and invented Islam.
Karen Lugo: Before we –
Unidentified Speaker: Just one thing — sorry.
Karen Lugo: Sure.
Unidentified Speaker: This whole conversation and everything is — you know, outside of a post-jihad world, it’s all academic, in a sense. Because again, we are at war. And until we take out the countries that sponsor terrorism — I mean, the countries who sponsor terrorism, the rest of the Muslim world will be in [shock and awe]. They will moderate themselves by nature. They will have to. They would have no choice. They’ll see the results, like Japan did, like Germany did. And that’s — in a post-jihad world, that’s when we can get serious about average Muslims going out there and reforming something that was never what it was. They can pretend and deny, whatever, you know, the history of Mohammad, and what he was and what he did, to join the civilized world, finally, after a thousand years.
Karen Lugo: Before we thank our panelists one more time — Frank Gaffney is going to be holding a seminar in this very room as soon as we conclude, talking about the record of Grover Norquist and his activities. So any who want to stay for that, please do. And please thank our panelists one more time.
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