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Friday, May 24, 2013

What Would Oriana Fallaci Do? [The Boston Marathon]

The Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, seemed to have been thoroughly assimilated immigrants living in one of the most exciting, urbane progressive centers in the world: Boston and Cambridge. As a former resident of Cambridge, I can tell you that the area is home to some of the most diverse, international communities this side of San Francisco.

The people of Cambridge, home of MIT and Harvard, are especially welcoming to “outsiders.” In many ways, there are no “outsiders” in Cambridge. People there make no assumptions based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

It is curious that some Americans look at the Tsarnaey brothers and ask how they went undetected as religious jihadists by everyone in their environment. These people wonder how the brothers led seemingly healthy student lives while jihadist thoughts were forming in their heads. That’s an easy question to answer: a person’s conversion to religious fanaticism can happen mentally—silently-- without a showy display. The Tsarnaey brothers are proof that religious jihadists can be effective as terrorists despite the lack of a supportive terrorist community.

Because the Tsarnaey brothers were not foreign-trained professional throat-slitting thugs but clean cut student-terrorists who went to the gym and partied with their American friends, there are people (and media outlets) trying to make sense of this tragedy, by asking why they committed these “senseless deeds.”

Question: why are these people asking the question why? One must understand the way Islamic fundamentalism works: to the religious jihadist, violence and murder is anything but senseless. It has a “holy” purpose.

After the marathon tragedy, I read up on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, and then read reports of the building of a 50 million dollar Islamic Cultural Center ten miles north of Dublin, Ireland. Ireland, a country of some 4.6 million people, used to be a robustly Catholic country. The 1991 Irish census had the number of Muslims at 3,875. They were mostly refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia. Today Muslims constitute about 1.07% of the population, but the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life forecasts 125,000 Muslims in Ireland by 2030.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. The problem is that, generally speaking, immigrant Muslim populations do not assimilate into the general culture, but form parallel communities. Well, you ask, didn’t Italians and the Irish do the same thing when they immigrated to America? Yes and no. The Irish and Italians did form enclave “ethnic” communities, but they did so not in order to resist or “fight” the custom and social mores of the host country. This is what has critics of the Dublin mosque up in arms. They are afraid that the newly created suburb around the mosque will be the genesis of a Muslim community that will eventually challenge Ireland’s governance and then eventually wish to establish Sharia law.

Is this just a paranoid fantasy?

The wealthy Irish real estate mogul who sold this six acre stretch of farmland to the Islamic Center has come under the radar screen of the Emir of Qatar, a Muslim leader who said of the real estate mogul:

"If there's one thing the west yearns, it is money. For it has worshiped this false god without fail for as long as they have departed from the worship of the true God. And it is this weakness, nay addiction that will see what they hold precious being wrenched from their spindly hands…”

Some time ago, I had a close Muslim friend; this fact is what makes writing this column somewhat difficult.

You see, you have to be careful when you write about Islam these days. If you criticize an aspect of Islamist life too harshly, you’re called an Islamophobe and a possible “hater.”

Here’s the rub: Omar’s (not his real name) brand of Islam can be described as moderate. He’s also bisexual, a fact that could get him into legal trouble if he were to take up residence in a Muslim country that follows Sharia Law. (Same sex relations are outlawed in 26 Muslim countries worldwide). Sharia law is Islamist religious law incorporated into the secular realm; it’s what the U.S. Constitution forbids in this country, namely the mixing of Christian or Jewish doctrine in the laws of the land. We know it, traditionally, as the separation of Church and state.

In Sharia Law there’s no separation of Church and state. The laws of the “church” are the laws of the state. This means that gay people in Muslim countries don’t have the luxury of debating gay marriage or marching in Pride events. The penalty for homosexuality is death, death by hanging or death by having a stone wall fall on top of you. In more moderate Muslim countries where the death penalty is not proscribed for the “crime” of being gay, the couple may be subject to beatings or public floggings.

Medieval, you say? Of course it is. But what’s just as medieval is the fact that Sharia Law is becoming the rallying cry of radical Islamists who want to destroy any notion of a moderate Islam. Sadly it seems that the notion of moderate Islam is becoming more remote as time goes by.

The cry for Sharia Law within the various Muslim enclaves in Western Europe has already become a serious problem. While I enjoyed hanging out with Omar, this doesn’t change the fact that in many Muslim communities in England nd France Sharia law is sometimes applied in a covert way within these communities despite the disapproval of secular authorities. Omar was embarrassed by this, and rarely wanted to talk about it. I didn't blame him. If I was writing this column in the 12th century during Christianity’s Inquisition, as a Christian, I’d feel the same sort of embarrassment, and I wouldn’t want to talk about it either.

Tom Trento, an evangelical Christian and a member of the Florida Security Council, came to Philly some time ago to showcase the film, “The Third Jihad” before 400 people who packed the Central branch of the Free Library. Among the people interviewed in the film was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former member of the Dutch Parliament who made the film, Submission, with Theo Van Gogh. Van Gogh was later killed by a radical for his portrayal [in Submission] of the treatment of women in Islamic societies.

At the end of the film, Trento spoke about “the silent jihad in Philadelphia.”

“Sharia law begs the question: can this coexist with a Constitutional Democratic Republic? Is there a way to bring these two together?” he asked.

Mr. Trento’s answer was an unqualified no.

Mr. Trento believes that most Americans are asleep when it comes to the silent jihad happening all around them.

“My intent is not to bash individual Muslims,” he said. “I want to confront a specific ideology of radical Islam that desires to implement Sharia Law in place of the Constitution of the United States. If anyone wants to mess with the Constitution, they become an enemy of the United States. So the issue isn’t Muslims; it’s where you stand on Sharia Law. If you’re for Sharia Law, you’re an enemy of the United States.”

Trento is convinced that the groundwork for Sharia Law lies in “peaceful” presentations by radicals.

“Whenever poison is introduced anywhere, it is to introduce it in a nice container of some sort,” Mr. Trento said. “The container used in the US right now is trying to rebuild the inner city…”

As for my old pal, Omar: sometime ago he told me that he was about to marry his girlfriend, which meant, I suppose, that it was safe for him to go home again.

What will they reconfigure next?
I prefer the quiet of nature and the isolation of mountains to the mayhem of big city marathons.