A few days ago Amanda Vanstone wrote a piece in The Age which I’m sure most thinking Australians would agree with:
“Whilst marching around holding “je suis Charlie” cards does express solidarity with lovers of free speech, it does nothing to change the minds of those who believe that our speech should be curtailed and nothing to make similar deranged fanatics think twice in the future. In other words it simply says “we are with you as victims after the event, but don’t expect us to stop any further people becoming victims”. It just doesn’t make sense.
There are a few other inconsistencies that are not easily explained. What happened in Paris was terrible, horrific. What Boko Haram has done in Nigeria is more so. That one gets seemingly limitless international attention and the other gets very little says something about us. It’s not attractive.”
Ameer Ali, the former President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, an umbrella group for various Islamic groups or councils in Australia, is currently a lecturer in the School of Management at Murdoch Uni. He wrote most insightfully in The Australian, yesterday, saying
“The West must stop ignoring Saudi funding for violent puritans.”
He makes a clear and historic distinction between
“These Islamist want political power at any cost to bring back their so-called golden age of islam which covers about 50 years from the time of the prophet Mohammed to the death of Ali (the fourth caliph, murdered in AD661)…
Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabi puritanism and the guardian of Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, with its new financial clout automatically became the unchallenged leader of the puritan wave in the Sunni world.”
Puritan Islam is described as authoritarian, legalistic, exclusivist and misogynist.
“Contrary to the views of many Islam was actually born not with the sword but with the pen, words and a book…that produced Islamic civilisation. Inspired by the spirit of enquiry urged by the Koran, generations of Muslim scholars flooded the knowledge market…
Long before Europe won freedom of expression, Muslim savants of the medieval era defended that principle, practised it and in its defence some even earned the wrath of the caliphs.”
Ameer Ali suggests Muslims can:
– Take effective action to socially marginalise the preachers of puritan Islam
– Deny the use of the pulpit to clerics who support the authoritarianism of the purists
– Muslim organisations who depend on financial aid should be selective about donors eg both Saudi Arabia (promoting the Wahhabi brand) and Iran (promoting the Shia brand) make donations which come with strings attached
– Muslim schools shopuld include courses on critical thinking to make students more discriminating when hearing puritan propoganda.
– Muslim students should be taught the achievements of rational Islam and how Muslim philosophers became instrumental in Europe’s awakening in the 15th and 16th centuries.
– Military solutions to eradicating terrorism should be accompanied by an ideological campaign to identify and marginalise the sources of puritan Islam
– The West knows that Saudi Arabia is the nursery for the religious authoritarianism that produced al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and now Islamic State and that it because of the regime’s sovereignty over Mecca and Medina plus its financial clout, it is able to spread the puritan ideology.
Al Jazeera describes Saudi Arabia as equivalent to the ‘Central Bank of Oil’
“Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of conventional oil in the world and the largest spare capacity (oil that remains unproduced but is readily available).”
Will the West tackle the ‘knotty nexus’ of their alliance with the Saudi regime?
The internet provided me with this projection of 2015 risks and Islamic State’s prospects – interesting. It also comments on the lack of leadership in the West.
“As noted, ISIS poses a notable threat to multiple countries in the Middle East, and its influence will continue to expand. But the Islamic state that the group would create will not prove viable in 2015, and it will not be able to expand the territory under its direct control. In Syria and Iraq, ISIS grew by conquering ungoverned territory and capitalizing on antigovernment sentiment among Sunni populations. But even in these countries, ISIS will lose territory as the US-led coalition, Iran, Shia militias, and the Iraqi government gain ground at ISIS’s expense. Assad will remain in power in Syria. If ISIS attempts to move into Shia or mixed areas in Iraq, Iranian forces will probably stop them. Iraq’s government will remain in place, and oil production will increase. In more stable Sunni states, such as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, there are effective intelligence, security forces, and militaries to keep ISIS from gaining a foothold. Even in Lebanon, where the population is diverse and the state is weak, ISIS will fail to undermine the established order as sectarian political leaders who dislike each other are still keen to avoid severe internal strife. ISIS will not disappear and its influence will prove long-lasting. That said, it will not replicate the stunning military successes it demonstrated in the summer of 2014 or create a state that can be sustained over time.”
FOOTNOTE – Freethinking Early Muslims:
In his article Ameer Ali listed the following scholars and poets of early Islam who had their writings named as heresies but were not killed or prosecuted. They were respected and sometimes rewarded for their works.
– Abu Ala al Ma’arri (973-1058) was a religious sceptic and an atheist
– Ibn al-Rawandi (827-911) was a free thinker who mocked and criticised the rituals of Islam
– Abu Bakr Razi (854-925) questioned the very concept of the prophet and prophesy
– Abu Nawas (765-814) was a poet who loved young boys and composed poems on gay love.
Roll on 2015