The Rift
August 14, 2005 7:22 AM   Subscribe

The Rift: The state of Islamic Alienation in Europe and for that matter any Western nation. Do Muslims get to retain their complete identity, values, and customs unfettered by their residency in the West? I think not. Inversely, if 1-5% of the population in Saudi Arabia was western what could they expect of their adopted (i.e. a choice) Wahhabi nation... Where does this end?
posted by philmas (34 comments total)

 
An interesting article and one that for me comes closer to explaining a lot about the current disconnect between muslims in western society and non muslims. People really do have to acknowledge that there are some serious differences in values between a significant percentage of the muslim community and mainstream western society that can be blamed for this disconnect. Attitude to women and democratic self representation being two signifant examples.

I know that some parts of the muslim community are very progressive and are able to maintain a muslim faith and liberal views simultaneously and I applaud them for that but to be honest they are not representative of the whole community.

Unfortunately all too often it seems that the more liberal people who really could do a lot to counter the radicals in the muslim community are too afraid to stand up against the radicals as the radicals often have much more support and sympathisers than people would like to admit.

What is the solution? I don't know. Is it simply that we in the west have a right to expect that people coming to our shores share a few simple values i.e. all men(and women) are treated equally, freedom of all types of religous expression and freedom to democratic representation? And if people who do not share these values wish to live in our countries for economic gain is it not our right to refuse them entry?

These are uncomfortable questions for a lot of people who I think would rather blame foreign policy completely (not that I am ignoring the effects of the wests policy towards the middle east) and completely ignore some serious incompatabilities between traditional muslim society and modern western society
posted by benny at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2005


I lived as a western minority in Kuwait, which is, at heart, just a petroleum brothel, but which was ostensibly a devout muslim country. They interrupted TV programming to broadcast the call to prayer, there were mosques on every corner (packed) and alcohol was banned from the entire nation. Neither I nor any of my family members ever experienced any cultural opression of any kind (unless you call living dry cultural oppression, but even so my parents smuggled bottles in and made wine). Just to answer the poster's question with my $.02 - though this was all 15-20 years ago.

What bothers me about the above article is that the author seems to think that we need to take a fresh look at the entire muslim population because of the actions of the mulim bombers, implying that there is a fundamental connection and the motivations of the former are reflected in the actions of the latter. He makes it sound like the entire demographic is straining against the norms of their home country:
This alienation is cultural, historical and above all religious, as much if not more than it is political. Immigrants who were drawn to Europe because of the Continent's economic success are in rebellion against the cultural, social and even psychological sources of that success.
This just chafes me. Muslims may be in the news a lot recently but they're astonishingly good assimilators. Just because they don't rename their kids with Anglican names (like some Asians do) when they immigrate doesn't mean they don't embrace the values of their adopted country. Those values, in America, include freedom of religion, privacy, independence... how exactly does being a good muslim violate or or clash with any of that?
The multicultural fantasy in Europe -- its eclipse can be seen most poignantly in Holland, that most self-definedly liberal of all European countries -- was that, in due course, assuming that the proper resources were committed and benevolence deployed, Islamic and other immigrants would eventually become liberals.
I can't speak to Holland, but I think this "fantasy" is misrepresented. Liberalism is about tolerance. If someone in a turban moves in next door and you immediately start counting down the days until he takes it off and cuts his hair, that's not tolerance. If you leave him be and he leaves you be, that's tolerance. But I guess that the everyday actions of European muslims are all out the window now, because muslims perpetrated the bombings, and therefore they shall all be held intolerant, violent, responsible for atrocity. Their true colors are showing now!

You don't re-examine and judge an entire ethnic class of people because of a terrorist incident. It's not as if every population of people has its .0001% slice that's all terrorists, and you can compare and contrast societies by studying the terrorists habits in all cases. Terrorists are extreme whackos no matter what society they spring out of. And while it's true that a subculture of terrorism has sprung up in Palestine (and other places in the middle east, and Colombia, and others for that matter) it's completely unfair to attribute the bombing's motivation to the cultural discontent of ordinary muslim brits. It's essentialist, it's a blithering generality, and it borders on racism.
But given the sheer size of the Muslim population in England and throughout the rest of Europe, the security services are always going to be playing catch-up.
Uh, yeah, but only if you consider the entire muslim population a security risk. Asshole!
posted by scarabic at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2005


Do Muslims "get to" retain their identities? Of course they do. What's the alternative -- cultural re-education camps?

Obviously you prosecute and/or deport the people who do the crimes, but the notion that "we" have to reform Muslim culture is really quite offensive. Like any other citizen or resident, Muslims are bound to obey the civil law, nothing more, nothing less.
posted by footnote at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2005


Definitely what Scarabic said. And what's up with Reiff?
posted by footnote at 8:31 AM on August 14, 2005


Uh, yeah, but only if you consider the entire muslim population a security risk. Asshole!

Easy scarabic. Nope, you don't have to consider the entire muslim population a security risk, only the ones who are blowing things up and the ones who support that. Unfortunatley the terrorists blend into the parts of the Muslim community that don't support them, thereby casting their dark shadow on their brothers and sisters.

Do Muslims "get to" retain their identities? Of course they do. What's the alternative -- cultural re-education camps?

I believe the qualifiers were Complete identities, Unfettered by host countries...My point was that every immigrant is changed to some extent but their adopted nation. If their chaffing against this new reality leads them to despise their new home and blow things up, it is time to leave.
posted by philmas at 8:53 AM on August 14, 2005


Philmas - I still don't understand what you're proposing. Once we find out that "their" chaffing leades "them" to blow things up, then what -- mass deportation of all of "them"?
posted by footnote at 9:03 AM on August 14, 2005


Scarabic:

"If someone in a turban moves in next door and you immediately start counting down the days until he takes it off and cuts his hair, that's not tolerance"

I agree with your post & applaud your enlightened sentiment. Just an aside: Muslims don't keep their hair long - those are Sikhs (no relation to Muslims, different religion, different ethnicity, different part of the world, different shaped turbans)

But let's get back to the issue at hand....
posted by lowgfr at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2005


No, but I would count the days until he, say, stops discriminating against the female members of his family or community, or abandons his belief that anyone who desecrates a holy book deserves to die.

Anyway, it's all idle speculation. Let's look at Europe in 20-50 years and revisit this.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:57 AM on August 14, 2005


No, but I would count the days until he, say, stops discriminating against the female members of his family or community, or abandons his belief that anyone who desecrates a holy book deserves to die.


You were brought up in a society and culture with lofty goals of equality for all genders, sexual identifications, skin color and religious affiliations.

Just 100 years ago, most of the western world was as likely to subjugate women, just as likely to shun homosexuals, just as likely to discriminate based on skin color and certainly encouraged and passionate about eliminating jews, muslims, etc.

Lets be frank on this subject. Unless there is a truly active drive to push 1st and 2nd generation muslim imports to embrace the core tenants of western civilization, the pendulum will be swinging back the other way.

Cultural re-education camps? Well, no. Too 1984 to be realistic. But how about the creation and enforcement of laws in "host countries" giving a "3 strikes" policy and rigidly enforcing the tenants and values of the western world.

This could be easily accomplished under a visa system. Probationary citizenship is not unrealistic, and should be encouraged on all levels in the western world.

Can you, as a muslim, adhere to the freedoms and liberty that we enjoy every day?

Would you still move to, say, England if you were informed that your visa or citizenship is dependent on you and your ilk coming to educational seminars explaining (to both male and female muslims) what you can and cannot do under western law?

Would you still move to France if you knew that your women would be required to learn about gender equality and their rights and freedoms?
posted by Milliken at 10:14 AM on August 14, 2005


It's not as if every population of people has its .0001% slice that's all terrorists...

Try this for size. NB - The Muslim Council of Britain is widely regarded to be the closest thing British muslims have to an umbrella organisation.
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 10:25 AM on August 14, 2005


I had the same nit-pick as lowgfr. I'm surprised how many people don't know the difference between Muslims and Sikh culture. Of course, there are also Sikh terrorists - More Canadians were killed by Sikh extremists in the Air India bombing than British in the recent London Bombings. As there are terrorists of many different religions and ethnicities - I wonder why there were no articles about why the Irish had to assimilate. Or Christian fundamentalists, like the Timothy McVeighs?

But back to the matter at hand:

I am Canadian - we debate multiculturalism more than anyone else in the world. It is a bit easier for us, maybe, seeing as all but Aboriginals are immigrants - white Canadian society has no honest "homeland" mentality to claim.

Multiculturalism is neither about assimilation nor a melting pot. It is about acceptance and tolerance from both sides, with respect for established laws, including equality laws. Everyone is suposed to be allowed to express their culture within the bounds of those laws. I'm not saying it's easy - there are many grey areas. I would defend the right of an adult woman who chooses to wear the hijab vociferously - but what about children who wear it at the instruction of their parents? I don't know - but then again, we make our girls wear shirts, and as adults women can choose whether to continue or not. Should a Sikh boy be allowed to carry his ceremonial dagger at school? Some say no, some point out that it is less than 3 inches, specifically blunted, wrapped in several layers of cloth and tied under the clothing in such a way that he can't actually ever remove it from its sheath. (Okay, maybe that one is a little more obvious).

Should female genital mutilation be allowed? There most governments have put their foot down and declared it to be a dangerous and harmful procedure - it is against the law. But what about people who don't let daughters date, is there lasting harm there? And if this sexism isn't allowed from the Muslim community, what about my roommate's Christian family who are just as conservative and sexist?

There aren't always easy answers - these have to be worked out by the government and the society. The guiding principles need to be about respect for the culture, within the bounds of law. If a girl or her family wants to wear long trousers for gym, what harm is she doing? Heck, I felt like my modesty was being impinged on in highschool - and I had to put my foot down at one point when I was asked to wear shorts that were too short. (Though they didn't believe me when I said basketball was against my religion - esp as I was Methodist, and still went to dances. I'm not Methodist anymore - could have gone my whole life without alcohol, but not without dancing.) If someone wants to hurt another person, that is another matter.

European countries will have to face that they are not one culture anymore - not that they ever were (Austro-Hungarian empire, anyone? Langdoc vs Langdoil? Celtic fringe vs Anglo centre?). They are going to have to learn to understand and accept other people, who may drink large amounts of coffee instead of alcohol. But in addition to accepting Canadians, they will also have to accept people with different coloured skins and languages and religions.

On preview: People do change when they emmigrate. They emmigrate to embrace a new country. Just because a woman wears a hijab, it doesn't mean she doesn't respect her own equality - the dentist who wore a hijab above me always seemed to be far more equal to men than any of the non-Muslim women in my neighbourhood had children by men who would just walk out on them. Girls raised in North America and Europe will have different expectations for their lives - it won't always be easy for them, I've had friends with that kind of conflict. But I've also had non-immigrant friends who would be ostracised if they got pregnant (at 25) or whose "socially liberal" parents stopped talking to them when they left computer science for political science. This is not just a problem for immigrants - and often it is an issue for children and parents to work out themselves.
posted by jb at 11:10 AM on August 14, 2005


What's the difference between Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and Muslim fundamentalists?
sounds like a joke, I know, but I'm trying to be serious!

As far as I can see, they each hate women, and each venerates a book which earnestly commands them to kill everybody who doesn't believe in their rather unlikely portrayal of God.

So since all fundamentalists, of all three religions, are terrorists, shouldn't we really be talking about liberal re-education camps for FUNDAMENTALISTS of all persuasions, rather than picking on the Muslims?
posted by cleardawn at 11:37 AM on August 14, 2005


jb, the beginning of your post reads like you get it, but then you write this drivel:

jb: [Europeans] are going to have to learn to understand and accept other people, who may drink large amounts of coffee instead of alcohol. But in addition to accepting Canadians, they will also have to accept people with different coloured skins and languages and religions.

Uh, no, actually choice of beverage is not the problem here. Europeans in general are very tolerant towards foreign cultures. So tolerant, in fact, that there is no big outcry when 14-year-olds are married against their will with some cousin in Anatolia. Or when Muslim fathers don't let their daughters participate in gym class. Or where jeans. Or show their hair.
Or when a girl gets killed by her brothers for living "too Western", the killing in turn getting lots of sympathetic comments from her classmates in school ("hey, she was asking for it...")

So no, different colored skins and languages and religions (which there were always plenty in Europe) is not really the problem.
A large part of the problem seems to be lack of effort on behalf of the Muslims living in Europe to a) understand and b) accept the values of the countries they have chosen to liven in.
posted by sour cream at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2005


cleardawn, here's the difference: Locking up your women and forcing to marry your daughter to marry some relative in a far-away country seems to be mainstream in large swaths of the Muslim community in Europe, not only the fundamentalist fringe. Honor killings to a lesser extent.
posted by sour cream at 11:46 AM on August 14, 2005


sour cream -

Thank you for your very respectful way of describing my post as "drivel".

I love how you can stereotype large swaths of the Muslim community in Europe. Funny how my Muslim friends are not subject to any of what you claim is common.

Honour killings are not common - otherwise they wouldn't be news. Yes, they are a problem - and an example of what is not acceptable in a multicultural country. They will be charged with murder, just like anyone who kills someone else. Wearing a hijab, however, is completely acceptable - who are you to dictate to a woman what she may or may not wear?

I have a friend who was not allowed to attend a sex ed class - damn these Christians, why don't they just go home?

Parents do have certain rights - to require that girls wear tops to their bathing suits, to have their children not participate in gym classes (Gym classes are not a human right). Parents have a certain say over their children, until they are of age, within the bounds of the law. They must send their children to school, they must provide a safe home.

At that point, their children are adults, and can decide for themselves how to live. Giving them options is what a free society does. No one grows up in Britain not understanding their options - it's all around them on tv, at school, in the news, on the streets - if they don't choose as you would, that is their right.

Marrying under age is illegal, period. It doesn't matter who is dong it. It happens at a Christian fundamenatlist community in B.C. - they are trying to stop it, but it's hard to prove. However, it is much much harder for anyone in Europe to marry someone from another country, let alone underage. As a 28 year old trying to move to Britain to live with the husband I dated for 7 years before we married this summer, I am having to go through a great deal of trouble to prove I knew him before marrying him - phone and email records to prove we're in contact, etc.

You can't stop what happens in other countries, but any British person who marries in another country will not be allowed to return with their spouse is it was an arranged marriage or if either party was underaged. I take it you haven't actually tried to marry a British person lately?

But frankly, where the alienation is coming from is a lot from lack of acceptance for people of different colours and cultures. Second generation immigrants to the Netherlands are called "Morracan" by other Dutch people. Not "Morroccan Dutch", like someone is Italian American or Scottish Canadian. But "Morrocan", despite being born the Netherlands, speaking only Dutch. Listen to the tapes coming out of Britain of the London bombers - they speak with English accents. They are English. But they are not accepted as such.
posted by jb at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2005


IDIC.
posted by davy at 12:49 PM on August 14, 2005


jb, I apologize for calling what your wrote "drivel", that was uncalled for. I actually liked what you wrote in the beginning, because you clearly recognize that the big problem is how tolerant a society should be towards intolerance.

I love how you can stereotype large swaths of the Muslim community in Europe. Funny how my Muslim friends are not subject to any of what you claim is common.

You live in Canada, right? I suppose there might be a difference between Muslims in Canada and those in Europe. Many of the Muslims in Europe are more conservative and less educated than the average in their homecountries (for a number of reasons). There might also be a difference between Muslims in Britain and those in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

Wearing a hijab, however, is completely acceptable - who are you to dictate to a woman what she may or may not wear?

You know, I used to think the same thing, but now I'm not so sure anymore (although I haven't finally made up my mind). Underage girls are usually forced to wear the hijab by their family, and I'm not sure how tolerant we should be regarding this custom. To paraphrase you: Who are THEY to decide whether their daughter needs to wear a hijab or not?
Furthermore, the hijab is clearly a symbol of oppression. If you go to Iran, you risk being publicly lashed if you don't wear one in public. If that's not oppression, I don't know what is. I also think that it is very problematic that many Muslim families in Europe send their daughters home to Turkey or wherever when they get uppity and refuse to wear the hijab and wear jeans instead (gasp). Are you OK with that too? What about Muslim girls in the outskirts of Paris who risk being verbally abused (or worse) and called prostitutes if they don't wear a hijab? Just a small cultural difference in your opinion?

I have a friend who was not allowed to attend a sex ed class

I have no clear opinion about this, but I don't think I would have a problem with mandatory sex ed classes for everyone.

At that point, their children are adults, and can decide for themselves how to live.

Unless they are unlucky and already married with two kids at that point. Also, while the majority of the Muslim population may be law-abiding, there are some groups where adult girls from a Muslim background deciding for themselves how to live clearly risk their lives.
posted by sour cream at 1:00 PM on August 14, 2005


cleardawn has it

If you just replace every instance of 'Muslim' with 'Jew' this diatribe sounds a lot different.
JEWS! They're everywhere! They have their own customs and religon that is different from ours! What is wrong with them? They won't assimilate! They secretly control the world through [banking / oil]. Something must be done to halt this!
Why doesn't the article sound this stupid to you guys as you read it? Are you just conditioned to not question Judaism but distrust Islam? What the fuck is wrong with you?
posted by blasdelf at 1:04 PM on August 14, 2005


Assimilation while maintaining multiculturalism? Allow the people to practice their beliefs--provided it doesn't conflict with the basic human rights upholded in the country they're practicing in.

So if murder is illegal, honor killings are illegal.

I mean, let's let people preserve their customs and traditions and whatnot. But sometimes ya have to acknowledge that some customs and traditions are just plain inhumane. If some society's culture suffers because they're no longer to cut off teenager girls' clitori or gang-rape women accused of adultery, well, that's too Goddamn bad. I'm sure some "culture" and "traditions" were lost when slavery was outlawed in the States, but I think you'd be wont to find an anthropologist who'd argue it should be brought back to preserve that part of history. Cultures change. Societies change. Becoming culturally progressive is not the same as becoming part of some monolithic suburb where everybody eats at McDonald's and shops at Walmart.

For the record, "inhumane traditions" does not include carrying ceremonial knives, or the decision to wear a hijab, or the decision to stay at home and take care of the kids instead of getting a career. Choice. Choice is cool.
posted by schroedinger at 1:18 PM on August 14, 2005


What's the difference between Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and Muslim fundamentalists?

How about the relative numbers of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim fundamentalists who blew themselves up in cafes, buses, or airplanes over the past few years?
posted by Krrrlson at 1:52 PM on August 14, 2005


You know, I used to think the same thing, but now I'm not so sure anymore (although I haven't finally made up my mind). Underage girls are usually forced to wear the hijab by their family, and I'm not sure how tolerant we should be regarding this custom. To paraphrase you: Who are THEY to decide whether their daughter needs to wear a hijab or not?

I have had this very debate with myself and others. I am not writing without experience - the neighbourhood I grew up in was very Muslim, with many Somalian immigrants, and I saw girls as young as 6 in the hijab. (I would say that many Muslim immigrants to Canada are highly educated, but I wouldn't say they are more liberal than immigrants to Europe).

But then in talking to someone else, and in thinking about it, I realised we impose our own ideas of modesty on our children. Who are they to tell her? Her parents, who have legal rights over their children, just as we do. I was made to wear shirts at all times, even when my brother could take off his shirt. No one asked me if I wanted to wear a shirt, though the time I was eight, I would have been embaressed to appear without a shirt. I was also made to go to church and to wear a skirt in church (which I really really disliked).

A hijab is only a piece of clothing - it does not affect a girl's ability to think, to learn, to see the world around her - no, not even a burka does that. If she does look at the world around her, she will realise that when she is an adult, it is her decision to make, just as it is mine whether to wear a shirt or not (or to even dress more conservatively than my parents). It is true that her family may put on strong social pressure against it - but that really is a family issue. There are many families, immigrant and not, who would shun a child who became pregnant out of wedlock or who came out as gay.

Furthermore, the hijab is clearly a symbol of oppression. If you go to Iran, you risk being publicly lashed if you don't wear one in public. If that's not oppression, I don't know what is. I also think that it is very problematic that many Muslim families in Europe send their daughters home to Turkey or wherever when they get uppity and refuse to wear the hijab and wear jeans instead (gasp). Are you OK with that too? What about Muslim girls in the outskirts of Paris who risk being verbally abused (or worse) and called prostitutes if they don't wear a hijab? Just a small cultural difference in your opinion?

The hijab is not a symbol of oppression. While I have disagreed with some justifications of its use (it is a gendered standard of modesty, not an ungendered one as some people claim), it is only a standard of modesty, like religions or societies that require women to wear shirts or to only wear skirts or to cover their heads in church. Or which require men to wear yamukas.

Iran is not relevant to this discussion - no one would claim it it is a tolerant society which claims to support multiculturalism. It may be oppression to require that all women wear the hijab regardless of their own personal wishes, but it isn't it equally oppressive to demand that all women bare their heads – it would not be alright if Canada declared that all women must go shirtless, regardless of their feelings.

As for daughters being sent away by their parents, or in anyway mistreated - this is a matter for social services. Child protective sevices have very extensive powers, if they think the welfare of a minor has been endangered.

Similarly, abuse and harassment are (in most countries) against the law. Prosecuting harassment is very difficult, of course. But it's not a problem unique to European Muslim communities, as any person who has been subject to homophobic harassment can tell you.


Unless they are unlucky and already married with two kids at that point.

Marriage should never be allowed without consent. I, personally, would like to see consent laws more thoroughly enforced everywhere. And, again, if anyone is under 18, they are under the protection of social services.

Also, while the majority of the Muslim population may be law-abiding, there are some groups where adult girls from a Muslim background deciding for themselves how to live clearly risk their lives.

This is true. But this has not been demonstarted to be true of a majority of European Muslims - and, moreover, there are ways to deal with it that do not involve intolerance and condemnation of the entire religion and culture. Safe houses would be the first step, just as for any battered 6r endangered woman (of which there are very many in western cultures). Also education - but it would have to be education that is willing to learn about the other side, to work through the community and to persuade changes, because otherwise it will be just reacted to hostilely. Attacking people is not a very good way to get them to change their minds.

On preview: More Canadians have been killed by Sikh extremists than by Muslim. For decades, the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland have been killing many people. Second biggest terrorist attack in the U.S. was by a Christian fundamentalist. Hindu extremists massacred Muslims in India. More examples?
posted by jb at 4:30 PM on August 14, 2005


Muslims unite! A new Reformation will bring your faith into the modern era
Salman Rushdie

The traditionalists’ refusal of history plays right into the hands of the literalist Islamofascists, allowing them to imprison Islam in their iron certainties and unchanging absolutes. If, however, the Koran were seen as a historical document, then it would be legitimate to reinterpret it to suit the new conditions of successive new ages. Laws made in the 7th century could finally give way to the needs of the 21st. The Islamic Reformation has to begin here, with an acceptance that all ideas, even sacred ones, must adapt to altered realities.

Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance; open-mindedness is the sibling of peace. This is how to take up the “profound challenge” of the bombers. Will Sir Iqbal Sacranie and his ilk agree that Islam must be modernised? That would indeed make them part of the solution. Otherwise, they’re just the “traditional” part of the problem.




And what Krrrlson just said. Let's not be obtuse about which fundamentalists, globally, cause the biggest threat in the name of their 'faith', or about the culture of violence & martyrdom enjoyed by modern Islam these past four decades. Christian & Jewish radicals just ain't doing those kinds of numbers, and it doesn't make one an "Islamaphobe" to point it out.
posted by dhoyt at 4:32 PM on August 14, 2005


dhoyt: It should also be pointed out that it isn't fundamentalists that cause the most deliberate killings but organised states.

Terrorism is the weapon of the weak. It's a weapon that allows a few motivated individuals to get headlines and exert influence well beyond what they could do by other means.

The invasion of Iraq has killed at least 40-50 thousand people, which dwarfs the number of people killed by terrorists in the last 20 years. The Iran / Iraq war, the wars in Afghanistan, the killings in Rawanda and most 'little' wars are far, far more lethal than terrorism. The Israelis consistently kill more people than the Palestinians do. Admittedly, quite a significant proportion of them are guerillas, but also a fair proportion are civilians.

Terrorism is not nearly a big a problem as normal warfare. It's just that it kills rich people in the developed world and that people overestimate the statistically tiny risk that it may directly hurt them as opposed to the huge risks of being killed in a car accident or dying of cancer.
posted by sien at 5:37 PM on August 14, 2005


What's the difference between Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and Muslim fundamentalists?

We're all eeeeeequal. Eeeeeeewww.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:35 PM on August 14, 2005


A hijab is only a piece of clothing

Clothing is seldom "only". The hijab is also a clear keep off signal, not least of all to anyone outside the community. Fine, whatever. I'm guessing that Romeo 'n' Juliet doesn't fetch 'em in Muslim neighborhoods. Nor Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?, for that matter. But it's does rather slow down the assimilation process.

Question- any statistics (not anecdotes) by country on mixed marriages Muslim/non-Muslim by sex? Or as opposed to other mixtures? Generally one hears about it only in dire cases of western women marrying Muslim men and finding a tabloid television worthy personality change once the vows are made or the children are born- the Not Without My Daughter kind of thing.

"all fundamentalists, of all three religions, are terrorists"

Please define terrorist. Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, even the weirdest, don't hijack airliners and run them into skyscrapers, nor try to convince the simple minded that suicide bombing is a sure path to a lubricious heaven (by the way, what do female suicide bombers get in the next world? Seriously, what's the come on?). Certainly no government encourages such preaching.

And if they did, I imagine there would be a serious, serious backlash in western countries, as opposed to the frankly muted, and even self-pitying response we hear after 9/11, 7/7, and whatever other fractional incidents that crop up from time to time.

Terrorism is not nearly a big a problem as normal warfare

Yet.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:00 PM on August 14, 2005


Terrorism is not nearly a big a problem as normal warfare

Only if you're talking about numbers.

Warfare is a formalization of elements of terrorism--there is violence and struggle, but the rules are different. Soldiers wear uniforms. They're expected to adhere to international laws. Their government often gives advance warning of invasion, or even consideration of invasion. Unless extreme circumstances, their targets are military, not civilian. They are not seeking martyrdom. They seek an end to war. The uphold concepts of freeing the citizens of the country they've invaded.

Terrorism—though it might not do big numbers like coventional warfare—is obviously more deeply insidious and poses a greater threat to stability. Wars end when a victor is declared. Terrorists aren't interested in who has scored the most points. They seek chaos and instability, and to the world at large, that is just as serious a threat as losses in military personnel. It subverts everything, not just the players in localized conventional war X, Y or Z.

I'd like to see proof that fundamentalist Xtians or Jews have targeted civilians with the same scope as Muslims in the past thirty years.
posted by dhoyt at 8:59 PM on August 14, 2005


Yes to what schroedinger said.

And Krrrlson, Eric Rudolph didn't blow himself up.

--
And: "I'd like to see proof that fundamentalist Xtians or Jews have targeted civilians with the same scope as Muslims in the past thirty years."

dhoyt, what religions do you think the Nicaraguan Contras, the U.S. troops in the Gulf and Serbian wars, and the Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza avow? And for Christ's sake, the Rwandan Hutus who chopped up their Tutsi cousins and in-laws are Roman Catholic -- just like Tutsis they pogrommed. And if you hadn't specified "in the past thirty years" I could have brought up Dresden, Hiroshima and May Lai off the top of my head. And as for your use of "fundamentalist", is a civilian "targeted" by a "progressive" Presbyterian any less dead? In fact, as far as targeting civilians in the past thirty years goes, them fundy Muslims got some catchin' up to do; my guess is they're almost 100,000 targeted civilians behind. (Like I told somebody else elsewhere, it's comments like this that you just made that make Metafilter so amusing.)

[If somebody tries to make a difference between targeting civilians in "'legitimate' war" and in "terrorism" then I'll get to bring up the Nuremburg Trials! This could be a fun thread -- and I might even wind up being accused of defending Islam for a change!]
posted by davy at 10:25 PM on August 14, 2005


jb, maybe I should clarify. I'm not for outlawing the hijab per se or anything like that, and I don't think you'll find anyone in Europe worth to be taken seriously who'd advocate that.

But I do think that it is worth thinking about making e.g. schools and universities hijab-free zones. Or to force teachers of public schools to take off the hijab. (If that means banning the jarmulka and cross-shaped earrings, too, to placate the relativists - fine, although I've never heard of anyone being harrassed for not wearing a cross around their neck).

Note that even in Turkey hijabs are banned in schools and universities.

there are ways to deal with [battered wives and forced marriages] that do not involve intolerance and condemnation of the entire religion and culture.

No, I'm not condemning the entire religion and culture. Only the part that says that it's OK to beat your wife, that your daughter absolutely has to wear a hijab or else she's a prostitute and the part that makes it OK to force your daughter to marry some cousin in Anatolia. Oh, and of course that ridiculous thing about the virgins in heaven that await you when you blow yourself up on a bus in Tel Aviv or on the tube in London. (Come to think of it, I've never heard any Islamic religious leader make a statement that that virgin thing is false, so that really is sorta like religious dogma, right?)
I also condemn the "us vs. them" mentality displayed by much of the Muslim community in Europe. Last week, Britain kicked out a Muslim cleric (I think from Jordan) who said he'd never rat on a fellow Muslim to the police, that would be against his religion -- I applaud the British for getting rid of this asshole.
posted by sour cream at 12:45 AM on August 15, 2005


I could have brought up Dresden, Hiroshima and May Lai off the top of my head.

You could and you did. Note that in each case, the soul searching and even protests go on to this day. Note that in the former two, America was fighting against the perpetrators of the Holocaust and of the Rape of Nanking, among other unpleasantness. Note that Lt Calley was tried and convicted for My Lai.

what religions do you think the Nicaraguan Contras, the U.S. troops in the Gulf and Serbian wars, and the Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza avow?...Rwandan Hutus ...chopped up their Tutsi cousins and in-laws are Roman Catholic -- just like Tutsis they pogrommed

None, frequently. But are you saying that these were, are religious in character, that someone in government or from the pulpit is promising heaven for spilling enemy blood?

And even if this were truth, how would it mitigate the evil done by Al Queda and Hizbollah? (And where do you get your figures?) And are you suggesting that Al Qaeda is fighting a legitimate war?

A Yes answer to the last question will shut me up, by the way, though possibly not others.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:07 AM on August 15, 2005


IndigoJones, don't get confused: dhoyt asked for proof that fundamentalist Christians and Jews have not "targeted" civilians in 30 years, and I answered him by pointing out that neither religion makes one immune from committing that crime. (I also left out Bosnia, where Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats did their fair share of targeting civilians.) I answered the part about fundamentalism by pointing out that that is actually unnecessary for targeting civilians, and the point about scale by reminding him that in the last 30 years Muslims have targeted civilians on a lesser scale than have Christians or Jews, fundamentalist or not.

Now you want to know if these "non-Al Qaeda" examples of targeting civilians that I gave in this thread were religious in character. Religious to the exclusion of every other factor such as politics, ethnicity, economics and getting up on the wrong side of the bed, of course not: in the real world nobody gets absolute purity of motive, not even murderers who target civilians. Note for example that the propaganda claiming to come from the group that did the recent London bombings mentioned getting British troops out of Iraq, which is not solely and purely a religious demand (and would not be even if Islam were not, as the mullahs tell us, a total system that makes no differentiation between religion and politics). So you're talking bullshit there too: of course there is a religious element to most wars, even those that are not (unlike in say Bosnia or "the Middle East") explicitly mostly religious in character: German soldiers in World War One wore belt buckles emblazoned "Gott mit uns", and you know damn well that many U.S. political, military and religious "authorities" portray the current wars against the Republics of Afghanistan, Iraq and Terror as facets of a (Judeo-) Christian crusade against Evil Islam.

To answer your question whether "someone in [presumably the U.S. or some allied] government or from the pulpit is promising heaven for spilling enemy blood", there's a finely blurry line between "you'll go to Heaven if you do your duty in this war that God has commanded and/or blessed" and "you'll go to Hell if you do not do your duty" -- which is the duty of every military chaplain to instill and exploit, because getting "troops" to kill when ordered to is a huge part of what military chaplains are for. So yes, obviously a lot of people in positions of authority regularly use the hope of Heaven and/or the fear of Hell as part of Standard Operating Procedure, even if Our Dear Leader Gee Dubya does not explicitly promise any virgins to those on "our" side who target civilians. (And before you try to wiggle, note that bombing water treatment plants so that cholera kills civilians is just as bad as bombing civilians directly: that's "biological warfare" at least as bad as poisoning the reservoirs Manhattan drinks from.)

To your first remark, that "soul-searching" and protests concerning Dresden, Hiroshima and May Lai "to this day", if we are to believe those who holler that "Islam is a religion of peace!" (and there's no doubt that many are sincere in that, albeit mistaken), I certainly could not righteously claim that no Muslim anywhere has fits of conscience against the targeting of civilians that goes on the name of Islam. So what? What good do after-the-fact conniptions do the dead and maimed of Dresden, Hiroshima, May Lai, Hebron and Baghdad?

And you closed by asking me whether "Al Qaeda" is fighting a "legitimate" war. Are you asking me to define "legitimate war", and if so will you abide by and preach my ruling on the subject? No? I didn't think so, but I'll answer anyway: "Al Qaeda", assuming there is such a group, country or brand, is fighting a war that is no less "legitimate" than those the U.S. is fighting against the countries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Terror, and the civilian-targeting bombings in New York, Madrid and London are every bit as "legitimate" as when the U.S. troops target civilians in those Republics. If scale is any mitigation, the U.S. bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Baghdad were far less "legitimate" than anything "Al Qaeda" has done so far. (The fact that I think that none of these examples constitute "legitimate" war won't stop you from verbalizing further idiocies, I'm sure.)
posted by davy at 11:39 AM on August 15, 2005


Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, even the weirdest, don't hijack airliners and run them into skyscrapers .

No. But they -- together with Sikh and Hindu 'militants' and 'paramilitary' organizations like the IRA -- do blow up airplanes, buses, hotels, subways and government buildings; kill heads of state who disagree with them; bomb abortion clinics; murder gynecologists who perform abortions; support, justify and hide sexual abuse and family violence; run gangs that smuggle weaponry and drugs, and generally behave like thugs and d*ckheads.

The criminal behavior of the IRA never led to calls to nuke the Vatican. The thugs are the enemy, not a given faith.
posted by jrochest at 2:42 PM on August 15, 2005


"further idiocies", indeed. Play nice and take the chip off your shoulder. Believe it or not, I have been consistently against this war and this president.

dhoyt asked for proof that fundamentalist Christians and Jews have not "targeted" civilians in 30 years, and I answered him by pointing out that neither religion makes one immune from committing that crime

Which means you didn't answer his question.

Of course Judaism and Christianitiy do not preclude war, but they are far from enjoining against it in all circumstances, and they definitely have strong words on treatment of civilians. As to Dresden and Hiroshima, there is actually a good deal of interesting history on the subject of pre-war Christian thought concerning bombing of cities, and more on how one grim mistep escalated to another, leading to Hiroshima.

On the company level, it is Pentagon policy is to not target civilians, which is tough when the enemy has no uniform. Soldiers who get caught breaking this rulewill be court martialed by their own. Thus Calley and Medina. Terrorists by contrast specifically target civilians. Their leaders and followers applaud them for doing so.

I would argue that the Al Qaeda types are pretty much purely religious in nature. Their gripes consistently run along religious themes- defiling by our mere presence the holy places of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, our failing to embrace Islam, their desire of taking back the Holy Sites of Palestine, their desire, indeed, of taking back Al Andalus. There's a throwaway line about the west's stealing their oil, but given the price of gas these days, I have to take that as a weak attempt at a joke.

Legitimate war - it's more nuanced than you make out. Many people smarter than you or me have spent years on the on the issue and you would do well to look into their findings. For a start, check out the Geneva Convention. Among other tidbits- Un-uniformed freelancers with no UN recognized governmental affiliations do not qualify as legitimate soldiers, so that that extent, Al Qaeda (they would be hurt to think you doubted their existence) are clearly not fighting a legitimate war, never mind their tactics. (While Bush bashing is entertaining, what you should have noted is that congress is supposed to have the power to declare war, but regularly chickens out. It is at least in part the declaration by congress that made WWII legitimate, in most eyes if not in yours.)

Where on earth do you get your understanding of chaplains? I urge you to go and talk to some, you clearly have a very warped view of what it is they do, of what they tell their congregations. Believe me, it is not "Goddamit you get your panty ass out there and waste some rag heads!"

As to wiggling, I have no intention of any such thing. However, from what I have read, the question of our specifically targeting water treatment plants open to debate. I'm persuadable. Please update if possible, preferably with footnotes. I would note, however, that we are certainly rebuilding water and sewage plants, despite, again, suicide soldiers on a mission from God trying to stop us. (Yeah yeah, I know, Haliburton is making out like a bandit, it's all for money.))

Enough for now, the dinner bell has rung. Calm down a little a read more.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:39 PM on August 15, 2005


The article seems to indicate the influx of Muslims into Europe over the last fifty years is based only on economics, and there never was any intention on either side to mix. At all. Europeans allowed 'em in just to do menial labor and not really to become part of the larger society in any meaningful way, and they went intending to just take the immoral Europeans money and keep to their morally superior selves.

Yeah, good plan on both sides there guys, real good thinking all along... both thinking of yourselves first and now what a shocking surprise: your kids can't seem to tolerate each other because you never taught them. Instead, each was taught they were 'better' than the other and that's exactly what a lot of 'em on both sides believes right now, correct?

The answer to this, in hindsight ridiculous, neglect of social realities has to come from within Islam itself, people of more centrist inclination are going to have to start working harder at it and demonstrating what a healthy blend of western and Islamic ways looks like. Meanwhile, my opinion, Europe could learn a thing or two from countries such as America, Canada, or Australia about how to make a whole lot better effort toward integrating cultures. Of course you have to want to in the first place...
posted by scheptech at 9:07 PM on August 15, 2005


Of course, IndigoJones, the day-to-job job of a military chaplain is not simply to holler "Go waste some ragheads for Jesus!" Chaplains provide opportunities to do those things most believers use religion for: fellowship with other believers (especially good around "the winter holiday season"), "developing in one's faith" through Bible Study for instance, the conforting shared routine of regular religious services where time and place permit, someone to pray with and for one when one is wounded, somebody to help one handle unsettling letters from home, etc. etc.

But don't forget the underlying raison d'etre of military chaplaincy is military, and that the overriding purpose of the military is killing people who are not "your" side. I'd say that the "care of the whole spirit" rationale I've heard is bullshit, given the military setting: the real purpose is to keep a soldier/sailor/marine/airman able to do his/her job in the killing machine, whether to bomb water treatment plants or to provide essential supplies such as bombs to those who do the actual work of bombing water treatment plants. We are not discussing the Girl Scouts here.

As for defining "legitimate" by referring to "Un-uniformed freelancers with no UN recognized governmental affiliations", you show you're both unconcerned by the moral issues involved in warfare -- what I mean by "legitimate" -- and that you must have been absent the on days when the irregular, ununiformed arms-bearers with no officially-recognized governmental association such as the Green Mountain Boys and the French Maquis were discussed. (See also the Wikipedia article on guerillas.) Forgive me for not finding your rejection of the "legitimacy" of the US' current adversaries convincing.

You've also claimed that it's not US policy to target civilians. Now, let's go back a step, to where I said:

"(And before you try to wiggle, note that bombing water treatment plants so that cholera kills civilians is just as bad as bombing civilians directly: that's "biological warfare" at least as bad as poisoning the reservoirs Manhattan drinks from.)"

Do you mean that those U.S. troops in control of bombers, attack helicopters and/or cruise missles that blew up Baghdad's water treatment plant did so against against explicit orders to the contrary? Or are you simply forgetting that most of the people in Baghdad who needed clean water to drink, cook and wash with were not military personnel by any stretch of the definition? (What rank could an infant hold and what might be her MOS?) Like your opinion on what constitutes a "legitimate" arms-bearer, your definition of "targeting civilians" is naught but an excuse to claim that "our side wears the white hats".

You yourself claimed that "we" are "rebuilding water and sewage treatment plants" (for which I'd like some evidence), why do they need rebuilding in the first place? Did the bricks and pipes disarrange themselves? Or did they have U.S. ordnance exploded upon them?

If you must argue with me you'll have to do better than that. Condescension cannot replace paying attention.

--
SO. Anyway. To get back to the topic of the thread: I propose that more use be made of resources such as this. "Freethought" worked wonders with Christianity and Judaism, especially in Europe; I doubt Islam is immune.
posted by davy at 11:15 PM on August 15, 2005


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