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Fatwa issued against terrorists
January 9, 2010 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Top Imams affiliated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada have issued a fatwa calling those terrorists who attack the United States and Canada “evil.” ... Extremists have been told that any attack on the U.S. or on Canada will be construed as an attack on 10 million Muslims who live in these two countries. (via)

Meanwhile:

... Helen Thomas shows -- yet again -- that she's one of the very few White House reporters willing to deviate from approved orthodoxy scripts. She asks the prohibited question about the motives of Terrorists, and keeps asking as she receives complete non-responses, until they all just decide to ignore her...
posted by Joe Beese (58 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bam! Terrorism defeated! Mission Accomplished!

Why didn't we think of this earlier?
posted by chillmost at 9:23 AM on January 9, 2010


As far as I can tell, this has not been reported by CNN, AP or the NYT.
posted by kozad at 9:39 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So why does Al Queda get up every morning, and make the commute to their offices in Langley? WHY?
posted by MikeWarot at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2010


I'm don't want to complain about North American religious leaders trying to do something constructive, but isn't there a chance fighting fatwa with fatwa might be a bad idea?
posted by aswego at 9:50 AM on January 9, 2010


Terrorism defeated! Mission Accomplished! Why didn't we think of this earlier?

I actually think this isn't as glib as all that -- a lot of people have been saying "well, if Islam really isn't about this, why aren't there moderate Muslims speaking up against this?"

Well, now they are. I'm down with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2010 [19 favorites]


but isn't there a chance fighting fatwa with fatwa might be a bad idea?

At worst, it's a public acknowledgement that Islam is not a monolithic bloc of co-religionists who all feel the same way. More media coverage of distancing like this can only be good.
posted by fatbird at 9:58 AM on January 9, 2010


Well, now they are. I'm down with that.

Moderate Muslims have been doing it for a decade now, and continually fail to receive any significant press coverage.
posted by fatbird at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm very happy about this. Anything that harms the assumptions that a) muslims are eeeeeevil, and b) religious people are conservative is a good thing.

To my mind, the 'best' canadian muslim association are these folk. Supporting gay marriage and opposing the use of the human rights commission to squelch political speech? Count me up.

(I'm not sure what I believe when it comes to their opposition of shari'a-guided arbitrators - at a time when there were catholic-guided ones, and halakhah-based ones, it was awkward at bast to say that shari'a was meddling by the religious. But I trust they've got good reasons.)
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:12 AM on January 9, 2010


awkward at best. Bast is too grand to take awkwardness.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:14 AM on January 9, 2010


I get "Error establishing a database connection" on the first link, unfortunately.

But yeah, even Kaddafi condemned 9/11. He's not exactly what I'd call "moderate" by any stretch, either. But just like my dad used to say, "You will never see a headline reading Collective Bargaining Agreement Reached. You will, though, see plenty of Strike Declared." That's an exxageration, of course, but one with a kernel of truth: moderate Muslims denouncing terror doesn't grab the same reader attention as "look at these Muslims getting het up about a lil ol' cartoon".

With regards to this story, though, it's important to note that this isn't the first fatwa against terrorism. There was one in 2005, and one in 2008, to the best of my memory.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:19 AM on January 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm don't want to complain about North American religious leaders trying to do something constructive, but isn't there a chance fighting fatwa with fatwa might be a bad idea?

I'm not sure what you even mean by that. A "fatwa" is not synonymous with death warrant. It's unfortunate that since the Khomeini-Rushdie fiasco its common usage in US pop culture and media has been that, but that fact is that it isn't. A fatwa is simply a statement, preferably made by someone who has had a proper Islamic education although anyone can issue a fatwa, where there already isn't some clear cut ruling pre-existing in the shari'a.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a weak post. Overloaded server + Daily KOS + Salon Op Ed = Bad Combo.

What does this fatwa from some Canadian clerics have to do with a blog post regarding Helen Thomas?
posted by mkultra at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2010


mkultra: "What does this fatwa from some Canadian clerics have to do with a blog post regarding Helen Thomas?"

Terrorism: Response To, and Inquiry Into Cause Of, respectively.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:32 AM on January 9, 2010


This is going to confuse a lot of people who don't understand what a fatwa is.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another (currently slow) link to the story here.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2010


This is going to confuse a lot of people who don't understand what a fatwa is.
posted by b1tr0t


Wel that's a good thing, isn't it? Maybe confusion will be a motivator for those people to educate themselves about what fatwa actually means?
posted by ts;dr at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


More here.
posted by gman at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2010


Breaking News: Sarah Palin and Lady Gaga have issued a fatwa against breast cancer while riding bicycles through the occupied territories. They were slighting injured when a Israeli made an abrubt right turn as they went through a stop sign. There now this thread can turn into the greatest crap storm of all time.
posted by humanfont at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


well well, hell hell...
posted by ts;dr at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2010


Google Cache copy
posted by problemspace at 10:50 AM on January 9, 2010


This is going to confuse a lot of people who don't understand what a fatwa is.

I can't help picturing that as the quote under a still shot of the 9/11 attacks like the most bizzare yet poignant Gary Larson cartoon ever.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why the term Fatwa is screwed: I have encountered people who thought that papal infallibility meant that if the Pope had a pastrami sandwich for lunch today, it was somehow less than devout for practicing Catholics to have roast beef.

There's probably a joke in here where a priest and an imam walk into a deli here, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the rest of you. Bonus points if the punchline doesn't involve pork.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2010


Yes, the U.S. acts like an imperialistic jerk. Yes, this make U.S. citizens and interests an attractive target.

Otoh, England and Spain did almost nothing besides offer moral support to the U.S.'s imperialistic efforts, and they were also attacked. Moreover, Denmark did absolutely nothing imperialistic, they just granted religious worker visas to some rather unpleasant imams.

By comparison, Ghandi chased the British empire out of India using only peaceful means during a far more violent time. Palestine would be an independent country by now if the Palestinians had copied the civil rights movement in the U.S. etc.

We're facing two underlying problems : fundamentalists want to prevent the progress of human culture, and ancient religions are normally rather violent. War cannot help against either problem, ala "if you wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty, and the pig likes it."

Culture otoh can help considerably. I'm not just talking obviously good movies like A Jihad for Love, but even music videos and high end tasteful porn.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:14 PM on January 9, 2010


Is it just me, or is Helen Thomas being more than a little thick—or maybe just engaging in agitprop, as the case may be? That Salon op ed doesn't really do justice to the embedded youtube video [direct link] - sure, Brennan's answer is brief, but it's succinct and to the point, and moreover it's quite accurate. Al Qaeda is a religious group which adheres to a perverted form of Islam. What's most interesting about this post, I guess, is that John Brennan and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada are both saying pretty much the same thing: that Al Qaeda are criminals whose teachings are not in line with actual Islamic ideals.

Maybe Helen Thomas doesn't get that; or maybe she's hoping that the White House will make some grand concession that 'the terrorists are right about some things, since they're motivated by a false reading of very real conditions in the world.' But the simple fact is that it would be collosally stupid for the White House to make such a concession, and moreover the fatwa mentioned in the post shows clearly that the White House can speak to Muslims about the things that matter to them without treating the motivations of terrorists as anything more than what they really are: the raving fantasies of rabid criminals. Sure, some people in the world have felt sympathy for those raving fantasies, but the whole point is that in the final estimation terrorism is a crime and a sin. We've committed our own crimes in the past; but proper contrition for past crimes doesn't involve stating openly that other criminals are somewhat justified simply to avoid looking like hypocrites.

I'm no censervative, and I think the common conservative attempts to paint any desire to understand Islam as "letting the terrorists win" are just as despicable as anybody else does, but it seems like we run into a lot of liberal guilt over this. I think those of us who are liberals often feel a good deal of impotent rage over the shit that we, the United States, have pulled in the world. And that's understandable; but it sometimes leads us to worry that saying something like 'these people are criminals' or 'terrorism should be stopped' sounds all too much like a condemnation of someone else's legitimate belief system or way of life.

I think we could take a cue from the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada on this point. We need to be more confident in our own beliefs. Devout religionists make us nervous, as we see them as very different from us, and therefore we are concerned that we might offend them; but they're clearly made of stern enough stuff to handle what needs to be said. There is nothing wrong with saying: 'Though I'm a non-Muslim who agrees to disagree with Muslims, whom I accept even though I think they're wrong, killing innocent people to prove a point is wrong. I may be from a nation that has a lot to do before it can put its mistakes behind it, but that doesn't make terrorism right.' The Council shows here that they're quite ready to flatly condemn these fellow Muslims and call them criminals; we should be, too.
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


jeffburdges: “We're facing two underlying problems : fundamentalists want to prevent the progress of human culture, and ancient religions are normally rather violent.”

Where exactly does that leave the fatwa? Are saying that the Muslims who call terrorism a sin and a crime aren't really, properly speaking, Muslims?
posted by koeselitz at 12:18 PM on January 9, 2010


Culture otoh can help considerably. I'm not just talking obviously good movies like A Jihad for Love, but even music videos and high end tasteful porn.

Sorry, but that's flat out the most idiotic thing that I have read yet this year. You're saying a little porn can fix decades of oppressive economics and hegemony? Sheeeeit.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeslitz: Troll much? He's saying that Muslims who don't oppose the progress of human culture aren't really, properly speaking, fundamentalists.
posted by hattifattener at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2010


This is a very interesting fatwa, but the real story is how it is received by other imams and their communities. Inshallah this will be a meaningful fatwa for this new decade. The interesting bit is this to me is this hadith:

“Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a Hadith;

“When people see a wrong-doer and do nothing to stop him, they may well be visited by God with a punishment.”


Which, as it is included, seems to indicate a proactive stance, but there is also a major discussion that the reason the US and Canada should not be attacked is because of the freedom to practice Islam.

I suppose it is due to metafilter's ignorance of Islam that there isn't going to be a good discussion of what I think is an interesting fatwa.
posted by fuq at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, please don't confuse Christian fundamentalism with Islamic fundamentalism. They aren't the same.
posted by fuq at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Moderate Muslims have been doing it for a decade now, and continually fail to receive any significant press coverage.

Until now, apparently. So yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on January 9, 2010


Hard to define this coverage as 'significant'.
posted by gman at 1:46 PM on January 9, 2010


What struck me as most interesting and positive about this fatwa is that it unequivocally states that there is no conflict of interest between being Muslim and defending Canada and America in word and in deed. And, essentially, it defines Canada and American as Muslim countries, if not Muslim states. No act of violence can be taken against Canada and America that does not have the potential to harm Muslims. The fatwa utterly denies the sort of "us and them" distinctions that give meaning to rhetoric on many sides of these conflicts. That seems like a potentially very powerful set of statements, to me.
posted by carmen at 1:49 PM on January 9, 2010 [5 favorites]



By comparison, Ghandi chased the British empire out of India using only peaceful means during a far more violent time. Palestine would be an independent country by now if the Palestinians had copied the civil rights movement in the U.S. etc.


This seems...extremely misguided. For one, the net effect of the Indian independence movement is that the majority of British people left India. Do you really think that Palestinians could have convinced five and a half million Israeli Jews to go back to Europe, Africa, or wherever through peaceful resistance? Also, I'm not seeing the evidence that civil-rights-movement-style protest can create a new nation for a people not enjoying a vast numerical majority as the Indians did-- that's not what happened in the US, anyway; where's the African-American state? I'm all for nonviolent resistance, but let's not pretend it's been a prolific nation-building tool in the past.
posted by threeants at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


hattifattener: “Troll much? He's saying that Muslims who don't oppose the progress of human culture aren't really, properly speaking, fundamentalists.”

Trolling is stirring shit merely for the pleasure of stirring shit. If I'm stirring shit, it's because I'm genuinely interested. The word "fundamentalist," beyond being pretty vague, sort of lends itself to the interpretation I asked about above, doesn't it? Strictly speaking, doesn't referring to Islamic terrorists and Christian right-wing radicals as "fundamentalist Muslims" and "fundamentalist Christians" imply rather strongly that those people are Muslims and Christians in a more fundamental way, or at least that they have a deeper understanding or greater respect for the fundamental basis of those traditions? I won't deny that I don't like the term very much. Notice that those same right-wing radicals are the ones who adopted the title in the first place—they call themselves "fundamentalists" to indicate that Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, et cetera, are not really Christians. Agreeing to call right-wingers "fundamentalists" seems a bit too much like ceding their point. I understand that it's a semantic issue at this point, as the term's entered the collective lexicon with a more particular meaning, but I think it's worth considering.
posted by koeselitz at 2:12 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Extremists have been told that any attack on the U.S. or on Canada will be construed as an attack on 10 million Muslims who live in these two countries

So absent those 10 million it would be okay? Frankly, I could have wished for something a little more - inclusive.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:31 PM on January 9, 2010


@koeselitz

Strictly speaking, doesn't referring to Islamic terrorists and Christian right-wing radicals as "fundamentalist Muslims" and "fundamentalist Christians" imply rather strongly that those people are Muslims and Christians in a more fundamental way


No, it doesn't. Fundament simply means basis, so no position can be said to me 'more fundamental' than another. Fundamentalist movements represent radical departure from orthodoxy through a redefinition of core beliefs. The term does not impute any intrinsic sense of correctness or rightness no matter how much it's adherents might wish that it did.
posted by aquathug at 3:07 PM on January 9, 2010


me: “Strictly speaking, doesn't referring to Islamic terrorists and Christian right-wing radicals as "fundamentalist Muslims" and "fundamentalist Christians" imply rather strongly that those people are Muslims and Christians in a more fundamental way?”

aquathug: “No, it doesn't. Fundament simply means basis, so no position can be said to mean 'more fundamental' than another. Fundamentalist movements represent radical departure from orthodoxy through a redefinition of core beliefs. The term does not impute any intrinsic sense of correctness or rightness no matter how much it's adherents might wish that it did.”

You said it right there, though—fundament means basis; and by calling themselves "fundamentalists" those people are not just implying but actually stating that, unlike their opponents, they hold to the true basis of Christianity. "Fundamentalism" was not originally a term of derision; it was a term of pride used by those who were enemies of modernity. The OED has a good picture of the history behind the term:
fundamentalism. a. A religious movement, which orig. became active among various Protestant bodies in the United States after the war of 1914–1918, based on strict adherence to certain tenets (e.g. the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be fundamental to the Christian faith; the beliefs of this movement; opp. liberalism and modernism. 1923 Daily Mail 24 May 8 Mr. William Jennings Bryan..has been exerting the full force of his great eloquence in a campaign on behalf of what is termed ‘Fundamentalism’. 1925 K. LAKE Relig. Yesterday & Tomorrow 63 There has been in America some surprise at the sudden rise of Fundamentalism in the last five years. 1927 Observer 5 June 5/3 Fundamentalism and the Klux Klan are signs of alarm on behalf of the older ideals. 1955 Times 25 Aug. 14/1 ‘Fundamentalism’..appears to have been used first in connexion with the (American) Northern Baptist Convention of 1920 to describe the more conservative delegates who desired ‘to restate, reaffirm, and re-emphasize the fundamentals of our New Testament faith’.Ibid., Now ‘fundamentalism’..appears to describe the bigoted rejection of all Biblical criticism, a mechanical view of inspiration and an excessively literalist interpretation of scripture. b. In other religions, esp. Islam, a similarly strict adherence to ancient or fundamental doctrines, with no concessions to modern developments in thought or customs.
Now, I know we're firmly in the territory of semantics—people may mean whatever they wish to mean by their words, and I'm not trying to say that anybody means other than what they intend by the word. But I don't like the word, and I won't use it to refer to radicals of a stripe which I don't believe either Christianity or Islam deserves to be associated with. The implication which the first 'fundamentalists' certainly intended was that modernity—anti-sexism, anti-racism, pro-freedom modernity—is entirely counter to the "fundamentals" of religion.

This is sort of a derail, I know. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 4:05 PM on January 9, 2010


England and Spain did almost nothing besides offer moral support to the U.S.'s imperialistic efforts, and they were also attacked.

The terrorists of the 2005 London bombings were motivated by, among other issues, the war in Iraq, to which the United Kingdom committed tens of thousands of troops. While I don't support the terrorist action (or the war, either) I don't think the UK carrying out one its largest troop deployments since WWII counts as mere 'moral support'.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 4:55 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


@koeselitz

I agree that when the term is self referential it has this meaning. The problem is that what you asked earlier was (to paraphrase) whether this label has that meaning when applied by others (non-members of whatever movement) and the answer to that question is no for the stated reason.

See the difference between this
“Strictly speaking, doesn't referring to Islamic terrorists and Christian right-wing radicals as "fundamentalist Muslims" and "fundamentalist Christians" imply rather strongly that those people are Muslims and Christians in a more fundamental way?”

and this?
"... by calling themselves "fundamentalists" those people are not just implying but actually stating that, unlike their opponents, they hold to the true basis of Christianity."


See the difference? Of course when the group bucking orthodoxy and calling for a return to the days of virgin stoning use the term they intend to impute a sense of correctness.

For the record, the definition of the term as defined in the OED has been broadened significantly since its inclusion in 1989 to refer to a strong adherence to an unorthodox and typically anti-modern set of beliefs and that is the sense those outside of a fundamentalist movement intend when using the term to describe it.
posted by aquathug at 6:42 PM on January 9, 2010


I'm not sure what you even mean by that. A "fatwa" is not synonymous with death warrant.

Duh.

I'm not worried about North Americans who don't know what a fatwa is getting confused. I'm worried about conflicts that are explicitly religious on one side (and possibly implicitly religious on the other) becoming even more religious by the explicit entrance of religion on the other.

So, what happens now? Some emissaries are sent to southwest Asia and northern Africa, preaching that we've got the real authorities on Islam over here in the west, and not to pay any attention to those men behind the local curtain? Does this work?

Not all religiously motivated bad acts are equal, but if...say...Christian leaders in Europe came over to North America telling megachurches that they're wrong about abortion and same-sex marriage, would anyone count on it working? I'd hope so, but I wouldn't put money on it.

I'd bet the best case scenario is these North America Imams are ignored (like so many other moderating influences tried). Worst case scenario, they're seen as additional tools of the west, and another intra-Muslim conflict opens up.
posted by aswego at 8:25 PM on January 9, 2010


Imam let you finish, but blah blah blah best fatwa of all time!
posted by davejay at 10:56 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


sure, Brennan's answer is brief, but it's succinct and to the point, and moreover it's quite accurate. Al Qaeda is a religious group which adheres to a perverted form of Islam. What's most interesting about this post, I guess, is that John Brennan and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada are both saying pretty much the same thing: that Al Qaeda are criminals whose teachings are not in line with actual Islamic ideals.

Um, what?

al Qaeda attack the US because al Qaeda are evil and follow a corrupted version of Islam is an incredibly inadequate statement of motivations. It perpetuates the belief that any and all military action can and should be taken against the "evil-doers" whilst denying any link between US actions and attacks on the USA.

"Why do they attack us?"
"Because they're evil!"

How fucking patronising.
posted by knapah at 6:24 AM on January 10, 2010


So absent those 10 million it would be okay? Frankly, I could have wished for something a little more - inclusive.

It does not say anything like that. Did you read it? I pointed out that part as part of the overall effort to breakdown the rhetorical distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim countries. Congrats on recreating it so readily.

The statement is unequivocal in condemning the attacks and charging Muslims with helping to prevent them *or any other kind of attack* on Americans and Canadians. First sentence:

"In our view, these attacks are evil and Islam requires from Muslims to stand up against this evil."

Near the close:

"It is a duty of every Canadian and American Muslim to safeguard Canada and the USA. They must expose any person, Muslim OR non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians OR Americans. We, Canadian and American Muslims, must condemn and stand up against these attacks on Canada and the United States."
posted by carmen at 6:26 AM on January 10, 2010


So absent those 10 million it would be okay? Frankly, I could have wished for something a little more - inclusive.

It's not saying "it'd be perfectly okay to attack the U.S. if there weren't Muslims in it." It is a reminder to the extremists that "hey, dumb-asses -- there are Muslims living in the United States, and so if you attack the United States, you are attacking other Muslims by extension. Isn't that something you don't want to do?"

As I understand it, the Qu'ran forbids attacking any other nation except in self-defense, so whether or not there were Muslims living here no one was supposed to be attacking us anyway. The whole thinking of the extremists is that our very EXISTANCE is an attack upon the Muslim way of life, and the reminder that "there are Muslims living in the United States" was more a statement that "there are fellow Muslims participating in the country you think is an attack upon the Muslim way of life. You're very wrong about that assumption, there."

>Brennan's answer is brief, but it's succinct and to the point, and moreover it's quite accurate. Al Qaeda is a religious group which adheres to a perverted form of Islam. What's most interesting about this post, I guess, is that John Brennan and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada are both saying pretty much the same thing: that Al Qaeda are criminals whose teachings are not in line with actual Islamic ideals.

Um, what? al Qaeda attack the US because al Qaeda are evil and follow a corrupted version of Islam is an incredibly inadequate statement of motivations.


Nowhere in the rephrasing of Brennan's statement were we stating that "al Queda does what they do because they're evil." The thrust was that "al Queda follows a garbled interpretation of Islam". "Garbled" doesn't mean "evil." It just means that the majority of other Muslims hear those ideas and go "....I think you're getting a little carried away, here, because that's kind of wack."

And "these people are following a garbled form of Islam" is to my mind vastly more accurate than "these people are doing what they're doing because their religion teaches them to," which is what the majority of people in the United States believe. I'll grant you that the most accurate description would be "these people are doing what they're doing because they espouse a philosophy that is comprised of a whole morasse of social, philosophical, and geopolitical ideas, amongst which the influences include Islam, Marxism, and goodness knows what else".

I would wager that it's the "Islam teaches them to kill us" mistake that is perpetuating the "axis of evil" arguments, because it encourages people to believe "all Muslims everywhere are evil". So "these people are following a garbled form of Islam" actually STOPS the "all Muslims everywhere are evil" argument, because it points out that "sport, what they're following ain't your average Islam."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course I read it. Here's what jumped out at me:

Extremists have been told that any attack on the U.S. or on Canada will be construed as an attack on 10 million Muslims who live in these two countries.

“This is the first Fatwa by the Muslim clergy declaring attacks on Canada and the United States as attack on Muslims

“Therefore, any attack on Canada and the United States is an attack on the freedom of Canadian and American Muslims. Any attack on Canada and the United States is an attack on thousands of mosques across North America. It is a duty of every Canadian and American Muslim to safeguard Canada and the USA.


Attacks are Evil. Check. So why qualify with all the references to fellow Muslims? Why not just fellow Human Beings?

Seems to be two audiences here. One is to the terrorist crowd (don't mess with North America because frankly we your fellow Muslims have it okay here). The second, which you choose to get from the close, is kind of overshadowed by the previous qualifications.

I would have preferred a blanket statement - something along the lines of it is utterly evil to blow up civilian planes and subway lines regardless of who is in them or what the local social/political/religious bent is. This statement - it's too self referential to get more than one cheer.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2010


Attacks are Evil. Check. So why qualify with all the references to fellow Muslims? Why not just fellow Human Beings?...I would have preferred a blanket statement - something along the lines of it is utterly evil to blow up civilian planes and subway lines regardless of who is in them or what the local social/political/religious bent is.

The Qu'ran already says that as it is.

But the target audience for this pronouncement (to wit, the extremists) has already demonstrated that they are ignoring those sections of the Qu'ran, and have given indications that they believe that "human beings who aren't Muslims don't count." So the message is designed to remind them that "some of those people you think 'don't count' are fellow Muslims, so not only are your beliefs wack-a-doo, you're breaking them as it is."

The message sounds wack to you because you aren't the target audience, and you don't have the target audience's mindset.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 AM on January 10, 2010


Nowhere in the rephrasing of Brennan's statement were we stating that "al Queda does what they do because they're evil." The thrust was that "al Queda follows a garbled interpretation of Islam". "Garbled" doesn't mean "evil." It just means that the majority of other Muslims hear those ideas and go "....I think you're getting a little carried away, here, because that's kind of wack."

And "these people are following a garbled form of Islam" is to my mind vastly more accurate than "these people are doing what they're doing because their religion teaches them to," which is what the majority of people in the United States believe. I'll grant you that the most accurate description would be "these people are doing what they're doing because they espouse a philosophy that is comprised of a whole morasse of social, philosophical, and geopolitical ideas, amongst which the influences include Islam, Marxism, and goodness knows what else".

I would wager that it's the "Islam teaches them to kill us" mistake that is perpetuating the "axis of evil" arguments, because it encourages people to believe "all Muslims everywhere are evil". So "these people are following a garbled form of Islam" actually STOPS the "all Muslims everywhere are evil" argument, because it points out that "sport, what they're following ain't your average Islam."


The problem with that approach, from my perspective, is that it implies that the attacks were made because of a 'garbled' religion, rather than as a result of political events. The Detroit plane bomb attempt was claimed by al Qaeda in Yemen as being retaliation for US involvement in a Yemeni military offensive. Osama Bin Laden argued that the September 11th 2001 attacks were in retaliation for US support for Israel, the occupation of Arab/Muslim lands in the Middle East, and a litany of other charges.

These people are not attacking the US because their interpretation of Islam tells them to, but because their interpretation of Islam legitimates political violence as a response to the violence and oppression they believe themselves to have suffered at the hands of the West.

I could go on for pages and pages on this, but I have other things to do.
posted by knapah at 8:00 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


These people are not attacking the US because their interpretation of Islam tells them to, but because their interpretation of Islam legitimates political violence as a response to the violence and oppression they believe themselves to have suffered at the hands of the West.

Oh, no, I agree with you. But when so many other people are all the way back in "all Muslims believe this" territory, even this is a step forward. People have to get to the "not all Muslims think this" state before we can get more nuanced with the discussion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, no, I agree with you. But when so many other people are all the way back in "all Muslims believe this" territory, even this is a step forward. People have to get to the "not all Muslims think this" state before we can get more nuanced with the discussion.

Sigh.
posted by knapah at 8:11 AM on January 10, 2010


Knapah, I'm not sure what the disconnect here is -- you're absolutely right. But I'm just afraid that in trying to jump straight to the conversation you want to have, we'd confuse people, in the sense that if you tried to teach trigonometry to third graders you'd confuse them because they haven't even learned how to do long division yet.

We have to get people to understand the long-division elements before we can bring them into trigonometry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 AM on January 10, 2010


IndigoJones, the first sentence you've quoted is from the surrounding explanation, not from the quoted fatwa. The rest of it is part of the refutation that the terrorist attacks of the last few years can realistically be framed as being Muslim vs. non-Muslim. I.e., there is no "us" and "them" from a Muslim perspective. How would you make that point without referencing the fact that Muslims live, work, and practice their religion freely and productively in Canada and America?

don't mess with North America because frankly we your fellow Muslims have it okay here

I read it as "your justification for attacks based on the claim that these are infidel, non-Muslim countries is incorrect", which is powerful because it both contradicts a fundamental justification for attack and provides a clear instruction to Canadian and American Muslims that there is no conflict of interest in defending their nations against attacks from people making such claims.
posted by carmen at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2010


I mean to add another sentence after the "Sigh." saying, "You're probably right."
posted by knapah at 8:23 AM on January 10, 2010


I mean to add another sentence after the "Sigh." saying, "You're probably right."

Ah, gotcha. In that case, I join you in that sigh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Surrounding explanation? It was in quotation marks in the article and not attributed to anything else. If it isn't part of the fatwa, blame the editor.

And I get it that terrorists are the intended audience. Again, one cheer for taking them to task.

That said, why the hedging? Why not push back further? Why not leave out the implication of don't shoot, you might hit one of us?

For that matter, why limit their geography to North America? Might I not infer that there are places in the world where this kind of action would be perfectly acceptable? Or at least not worth the trouble of a fatwa?

Me, I'm a simple guy. I like my religions and religious officials to preach sanctity of all human life, period. I mean to say, when I complain about US involvement in wherever, I do not do so with the observation that dropping a bomb on wherever might hit a US national. I think in broader terms.

I really don't think that's too much to ask of the people who wrote the fatwa. Frankly, as it stands, it can be read in too many ways.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:12 AM on January 10, 2010


Me, I'm a simple guy. I like my religions and religious officials to preach sanctity of all human life, period.

And as I said, Islam already does. Really, you can take it as read, I promise.

But if the target audience DOESN'T believe in the sanctity of ALL human life, and only in the sanctity of SOME human lives, THEN how do you stop them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2010


A fair question. I'm not sure that you can. Stop them, I mean. I mean, I get it, the fatwa-ers may feel they have to phrase it that way for the wahoos who have a thing about the infidel. But I still think the statement could have gone further. There are people on the edge who are presumably more easily persuadable, who could really use the flat footed no wiggle room statement I'm talking about. Frankly, I'm more concerned with them than with the already hopelessly committed wack a doos.

Maybe they could write a follow up? Something a little more obviously ecumenical?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:18 PM on January 10, 2010


There are people on the edge who are presumably more easily persuadable, who could really use the flat footed no wiggle room statement I'm talking about.

"persuadable" away from what?

* From the belief that "non-Muslims don't count"? The Qu'ran already says non-Muslims do indeed count.

* From the belief that "killing is okay if you don't like someone"? The Qu'ran also already does that.

* From the belief that "attacking the United States is okay because it's not a Muslim nation"? Well, that's what this statement is saying -- "it's not accurate that it's not a Muslim nation."

The "flat-footed no-wiggle-room statement" you're looking for is already in the Qu'ran. The people you're talking about have taken that statement and gone off into a wack-a-doo direction. Some are further along in that direction than others, but they're all already ignoring the "flat-footed no-wiggle-room statement" which already DOES exist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 PM on January 10, 2010


koeselitz: Sorry, I apologize and I take back my remark. I did think your comment was just shit-stirring, but you do actually have a point. (Though I'd say the problem is just that "fundamentalist" is a misnomer; people are mostly not intending to say that terrorism is a fundamental part of Islam or Christianity. I kind of mentally translate "fundamentalist" to "traditionalist", in the specific sense of traditions that don't necessarily come from any actual historical root, but grow out of a convenient folk history. Dunno. Anyway, it's a derail.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:37 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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