THE NEW JIHAD
The struggle to keep the lid on radicalisation
As the ripples from the Charlie Hebdo and Lindt Café terror attacks continue to spread, questions are being asked in cafes, workplaces and houses everywhere: could it happen in New Zealand? The best answer available so far is ‘unlikely but not impossible’. The media have focused on five kiwis known to have joined ISIS and nine more whose passports have been cancelled, but that overlooks one important factor – the influence of hate preachers within the NZ Islamic community is far wider than just 14 people, and it’s a story the daily news media have failed to tell you. IAN WISHART has the details
In his seminal book on the rise of militant Islam, scholar and journalist M J Akbar recounts how insults have been traded between Christianity and Islam since Muhammad first darkened the doorways of Jerusalem.
Muhammad, he writes, has been labelled a “glutton…sex fiend..a devil…pervert…eaten by pigs”.
Akbar, of course, gets away with this precisely because he is a Muslim, a scholar and a journalist, debating the issue. He was reporting what others said, not endorsing the insults. The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo mocked Muhammad because they don’t like religion, and were milking the subject for laughs.
Bile, writes Akbar of the historical conflict , has “infected” the debate between the two big faiths, and “the Muslim reply to character assassination was the death sentence”.
Back in the old days, a thousand or so years ago, Christians in the occupied territories like Spain and southern France regularly insulted the Prophet, knowing they would be arrested and killed by their Muslim overlords. In Cordoba, a Catholic monk by the name of Perfectus was surrounded by a Muslim crowd and taunted into defending Jesus Christ.
“It was a set up by Muslims, of course”, writes Akbar. “To deny Jesus would be to deny his own faith, but to reject Muhammad meant an invitation to a beheading. It was a capital offence.”
Perfectus, says Akbar, initially tried to answer the challenge cautiously, “but suddenly something snapped and he burst into a torrent of passionate abuse, calling Muhammad a charlatan, a sexual pervert and so on.”
The crowd dragged the monk off to the local governor, who tried to be lenient, realising Perfectus had been provoked. But then the crowd started up again and Perfectus thought ‘to hell with it’, and called the prophet a child molester and every other insult he could think of. A few minutes after losing his head in the heat of the moment, he lost his head in the heat of the moment.
A group of Franciscan monks in Jerusalem pulled a similar stunt in front of the Muslim governor of that city in 1391 AD, walking to the steps of the al Aqsa gold mosque and demanding to see the governor. When he came out, with his Muslim entourage, the monks called the Prophet a similar bunch of names that Perfectus had used.
The crowd called for their heads, the governor gave the monks a choice “Convert to Islam or die”.
“They chose death,” writes Akbar, “because by inverse logic it would ensure [eternal] damnation on the Muslims.”
What we in the West would call “extreme Islam” is not some modern aberration confined to a few crackpots, as the daily media and political leaders would have the public believe. “Islam is essentially a soldier’s religion,” says Akbar, citing historian John Bagot Glubb approvingly.
Every time there’s a terror attack, Islamic apologists appear on TV to reassure the wider community that “Islam is a religion of peace”. On Newstalk ZB’s Kerre McIvor morning show over the summer, one passionate Muslim insisted to McIvor that “nowhere in the Qur’an is violence advocated!”
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